A Mother’s Perspective of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: A Mother’s Wrist Pain During and After Pregnancy
Are you experiencing wrist pain or numbness that radiates to your palm? Losing your grip strength and dexterity due to pain? It could be a case of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome(CTS).
So what is the cause of CTS during and after pregnancy and how can we overcome it? Read on to find out more about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Pregnancy. How Breastfeeding can affect your wrist and tips on How to manage Carpal Tunnel Syndrome with Exercises and more.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Pregnancy
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome(CTS) a condition that can occur with the repetitive use of your wrist that can cause a compression of the median nerve that can cause pain and/or numbness in the wrist or hand of the affected limb.
Weight gain and fluid retention(due to hormones) during pregnancy could also be a cause of CTS. The transverse carpal ligament, that forms the “tunnel” at the wrist for the median nerve to run through, may loosen and result in the nerve being squashed thereby producing symptoms. Typically, new mums experience CTS in the third trimester of their pregnancy. Some may also continue to experience symptoms post pregnancy due to repetitive use of their wrist during breastfeeding or when handling a newborn.
Common symptoms of CTS include:
- numbness and tingling (pins-and-needles feeling) or throbbing sensation in your fingers, wrists, and hands, which may worsen at night
- swollen fingers
- Gripping difficulties especially when performing fine motor skills, such as buttoning a shirt
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding may be painful with CTS due to prolonged postures of holding your baby’s head and neck that exerts the strain on your wrist.
You may choose to change to a different position or even adopt “hands-free” nursing when your baby is in the sling.
Here are some positions that may help reduce the likelihood of pain on your wrist:
In Sitting: Sit up straight in a supportive chair and have a pillow underneath the baby to support their body. Once your baby is attached to your breast, support their head with your forearm (like in the picture) rather than with your hand.
Lying down: Lie flat with your head supported and place a pillow behind your back and between your legs. Place a small pillow or rolled up towel and place behind the baby for support instead of using your hand.
If you’re having trouble breastfeeding or finding a position that’s comfortable for you and your baby, consider talking to a lactation consultant or our Women’s Health Physiotherapists.
How to Relieve Carpal Tunnel Pain
- Use a splint; a brace can help keep you from bending your wrist. You may want to wear the brace at night when symptoms are usually worse.
- Activity Modification: you may want to modify your wrist posture while performing a particular task (I.e. typing with wrist in neutral position, lifting without bending your wrist or breast feeding in various positions as above)
- Cold Therapy: Apply ice wrapped in a towel to your wrist for about 10 minutes, several times a day, to help decrease swelling and pain.
- Elevate your wrist: This may help reduce the overall swelling thereby reducing its impact on nerve compression.
- Physiotherapy: Myofascial release may reduce CTS-related pain and increase hand function. Therapeutic Ultrasound and Electrotherapy modalities can help too.
Best Exercises for Carpal Tunnel Pain
- Wrist Flexor Stretch (Hold position for 10seconds, repeat 10times)
2. Median Nerve Stretch (Hold ending position for 5-10 seconds, repeat 10 times)
3. Finger Tendon stretches and hand pump (Perform 10 repetitions, 3 sets)
Our Physiotherapists are skilled at assessing your needs, to help reduce your pain and create a sustainable tailored program to ensure your treatment goals are met without compromising on life.