Carpal Tunnel Syndrome during pregnancy: Can physiotherapy help?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, also known as CTS, is one of the most common nerve compression syndrome which can cause discomfort in the hand and forearm. This upper limb condition compresses the median nerve, and is one of the most frequent complications of pregnancy.

Prevalence of carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy:

As much as 62 percent of women get affected by Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, of which 17 percent of women are affected by CTS during pregnancy. While some women face the issue in both hands, some are affected with single hand involvement.

During pregnancy, there’s an increase in hormonal levels in women’s body. This may lead to fluid retention in the wrist and foot. When the fluid retention increases in the wrist, it will increase the pressure and compress the median nerve as this nerve passes through the carpal tunnel in the wrist.

This condition will trouble the pregnant woman while doing any activities involving the hand and wrist. With a few conservative treatment approaches, this condition can be managed.

Also read: This nifty guide will tell you everything you need to know about carpal tunnel syndrome

carpal tunnel
Know how to recognise carpal tunnel syndrome. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Signs and symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome during pregnancy

1. Pain over the wrist and fingers and hand (almost feels like pins and needles)
2. Numbness and tingling sensation
3. Swollen fingers
4. Trouble gripping objects and problems performing fine motor skills such as buttoning the shirt, typing on phone and laptop keyboard.

Symptoms may worsen as pregnancy progresses by the end of third trimester.

How to manage Carpal Tunnel Syndrome through physiotherapy?

1. Use of a splint, a brace which keeps the wrist in neutral position (not bending). Wearing it in the night specifically will help to reduce symptoms
2. Try reducing the activities that cause your wrist to work more.
3. Use cold therapy in the affected area for at least 10 minutes. This will help to reduce swelling
4. Elevate your wrist while sleeping or sitting with the help of pillows
5. Physiotherapy treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome will involve:
* Nerve gliding exercises
* Myofascial release therapy
* Kinesotapping for the wrist
* Biporton lights
* Stretching and strengthening exercises.

breastfeeding with carpal tunnel syndrome
Post-pregnancy, you may continue to feel the pain of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Does post-delivery CTS affect breastfeeding?

Yes, post-delivery, a woman’s Carpal Tunnel Syndrome symptoms can increase. Since the women starts breastfeeding the baby, it leads to repeated hand and wrist movements which pressurizes the nerve even more and increases the pain in wrist. This makes the breastfeeding journey a tad more difficult for the people suffering with CTS.

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