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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is one of the commonly occurring medical conditions diagnosed during pregnancy and can be prevented as well as treated, if proper care is taken. This article would provide more insight into it.
It is imperative for a pregnant woman to be careful and conscious of her diet, habits, lifestyle and environment around her, in the interest of her own health as well as the health of her foetus. If you are a pregnant woman, please read on to find out more about the effects of carpal tunnel syndrome on pregnancies.
What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by the compression of the median nerve, as it travels through the wrist. It causes pain, tingling sensation and even numbness in the hands (including most fingers) and arms. Usually the symptoms may start to show gradually and mostly during the night time. The patient may experience weakness while gripping things, and this could turn more severe over a period of time.
Majorly, the risk factors for carpal tunnel syndrome could be repetitive or continuous wrist-work, rheumatoid arthritis, obesity and pregnancy. Hypothyroidism is tentatively known to add to the risk, just like diabetes.
People engaged in desk jobs, especially in computer-related work, or any other profession such as working on vibrating tools that may require a strong grip, are the ones who are most prone to carpal tunnel syndrome. It is diagnosed and treated as per the symptoms and signs shown by the patient.
Causes Of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome During Pregnancy
Carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy is commonly caused due to the build-up of fluid called oedema in the wrist tissues. It results in pain, numbness and tingling in hands. The hormonal changes during pregnancy leading to high levels of progesterone, and water retention are the reasons for this. The swelling in the wrist squeezes the median nerve, causing the grip to go weaker and inability to move fingers.
Carpal tunnel syndrome may typically happen during the second or third trimester of pregnancy. It could continue to develop during the days after the baby's birth. Furthermore, if it is present during your first pregnancy, it is most likely to happen in your later pregnancies as well.
In case you gain excess weight during pregnancy, you will have more chances of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. The weight gain may happen if there is more than one baby or could be due to the fact that you were overweight even before your pregnancy. So, it is a good idea to avoid piling on more weight by practising light and regular exercises.
How To Treat It?
For pregnant women, developing a condition of carpal tunnel syndrome can be really stressful and unavoidable at times. Before we figure out the ways to treat it, let us find out more about how it may be prevented.
To prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, it is most important to consume a balanced diet on a regular basis. The idea is to develop and maintain an overall healthy weight. Cutting down on sugar, fat, salt and excess oil may be good to start with.
Having sufficient water to stay hydrated and at least 4-5 portions of fresh fruits as well as vegetables on a daily basis would be good. Including more vitamin B5-rich foods for building up a healthy nervous system also helps. Foods such as green leafy vegetables, avocados, salmon fish, garlic, broccoli, hazelnuts, etc., could be a good addition.
In order to reduce the pain when you are suffering from the carpal tunnel syndrome, you could include certain practices on a daily basis. Some of them are:
1. Put your hands in iced water for a cold-compress and relief from the pain.
2. Wear hand splints at night, so that your hands do not curl up while you sleep. This would reduce subsequent pain when you wake up in the morning.
3. Perform gentle wrist and hand exercises regularly.
4. Massage or get someone to massage your hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, neck and upper back.
Additionally, the formal treatments or therapies that you could opt for include:
Acupressure and Acupuncture
Acupuncture involves needling of the relevant areas in the skin to help get rid of persistent or chronic pain. Both these therapies come under the traditional Chinese medicine, and can be provided by professionals.
This method would involve massage, heat treatment and exercises to relieve pain. Professional physiotherapy sessions may be fruitful in treating carpal tunnel syndrome to a great extent.
Medication or surgical release
Consult a doctor, who would prescribe the relevant medication or surgery to cure carpal tunnel syndrome, depending on the severity of the case.
Chamomile tea is known to lessen inflammation and pain, and it is a good idea to have it at least once a day, preferably before going to sleep.
Will Carpal Tunnel Go Away After Pregnancy?
It totally depends on the case. In usual scenarios, once the baby is born, and the swelling due to pregnancy gradually goes away, the carpal tunnel syndrome pain also subsides. However, in certain situations, the pain may persist.
It would be advisable to consult your doctor, in case the pain, numbness and tingling don't go away after the delivery. They may prescribe certain cortisone injections which have no side effects for lactating mothers, or they might suggest that you wear a wrist brace for relief.
If the pain still continues, you could be suggested a minor surgery involving pressure-relieving on the median nerve by making a small incision in your palm. Once the pressure is eased, the median nerve would become absolutely normal. This is a painless procedure; however, the recovery could take a few weeks.
As a final note, you may want to take the necessary precautions, focus on your eating habits, include lots of nutrients, perform exercises as suggested by your doctor or any other professional and keep your weight in check.