Postnatal Carpal Tunnel Symptoms With Shoulder Pain

by A Milwaukee Mom

I have been experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome since the end of my pregnancy in May.

I have had the typical symptoms of numbness in my thumb and first few fingers, shooting pain up my arm, and loss of strength (all mostly in my right hand).

Fortunately I don't experience a lot of pain, but I find it all rather annoying and debilitating (I have a 5 month old and this makes for great difficulty sometimes).

I experience numbness at least 6 or 7 times a day, sometimes more, sometimes all day and usually out of no where. In fact, my hand is numb now.

During the past few weeks I have begun to experience a new pain that I am not sure is associated with the carpal tunnel syndrome.

I have been having pain in my right shoulder. It hurts almost always and feels like some one punched me with their knuckle out right in the meat of my shoulder (you know like the kids did on the play ground, they always left such nasty bruises).

At times I am unable to lift my arm and have been very uncomfortable sleeping. I almost feel like I want to raise it, but it always hurts. It also hurts to twist it in either dirtection. The pain is always in the same spot.

I feel that it is connected somehow because when I have pain up my arms (which is rare) it seems to end there, but I am unsure.

I hope you can shed some light on this little mystery of mine.


Joshua Answers:

Hello AMM. Congratulations on a growing family!

Now let's get rid of that pain and such.

Did you have Carpal Tunnel during your pregnancy?

If you didn't have any Carpal Tunnel Symptoms during pregnancy, and it just started at the end of/after pregnancy, then it's probably a case of something like this:

As you progressed through your pregnancy, the front got heavier and the body basically rotated forward while the muscles on the back worked harder to support all that.

This sets you up for the carpal tunnel position, just like lots of computer work does, such that your arms/shoulders are medially rotated, and your shoulders and neck are forward, such that the nerves get stepped on by tight, short muscles.

Just that can give you pain and numbness in the wrist.

Now, you have a new baby. (Just one, I imagine.) And you're carrying, supporting, holding, etc the 5-10 pounds (and then more as time progresses) of your baby.

Which means that your poorly positioned structure ALL OF A SUDDEN is working out. A lot. For long periods of time.

And it's not happy about it.

This essentially equals and/or leads to Tendonitis.

If nothing else, just like overdoing it at the gym, there's now a bunch of lactic acid, and pain causing chemical from the Process of Inflammation in there.

In short, what to do about that:

1. Put your back against a doorframe, and wing your arms back behind you. Starting like a 't' and taking arms straight back, at a horizontal angle (It's more than ok to play with the angles)

2. Get a frozen little water bottle. Put it against a wall. Lean your shoulder into it and move your shoulder around some so it grinds (gently at first) into painful spots in your shoulder.

3. Have a husband/partner/friend/family member rub the shoulder, deltoids, hotspots. Even just 5 minutes a time, several times a day.

4. When laying in bed, stretch your arms out and/or up over your head, reverse the forward rotation.

5. Switch arms when holding your baby. Find some kind of sling you can hold your baby while the sling holds your arm, or at least takes some weight off.

Imagine holding a 10 pound barbell up against your body for a couple hours, several times a day. Same thing.

My one real question to make sure I'm on the right track is, is, do you hold your child with your right arm a lot?

Also, do you have a history of lots of being in front of a computer, or something similar?

More questions, more answers!

Joshua Tucker, B.A., C.M.T.
The Tendonitis Expert

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