Numbness in hands during pregnancy
Pain and numbness in hands and fingers during pregnancy are quite common and most likely caused by carpal tunnel syndrome. About one in four pregnant women develop carpal tunnel symptoms, usually in both hands. Symptoms can appear at any time but most often begin in the second half of pregnancy, as retention of fluid is more. The symptoms usually go away gradually after giving birth as the swelling from pregnancy subsides.
Causes carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy
The carpal tunnel is a bony canal formed by the wrist bones on three sides and ligament that runs across the wrist on the other. The swelling and fluid retention that is very common during pregnancy. This can increase the pressure in this relatively narrow and inflexible space, compressing the median nerve that runs through it. The median nerve gives sensation to the thumb and the index, middle and half of the ring finger and is responsible for movement of muscle at the base of the thumb. Pressure on this nerve causes the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, including numbness, tingling, burning, pain or a dull ache in the fingers, hand and wrist and even up the arm to the shoulder in some cases. In severe chronic cases hand may feel clumsy or weak.
How to relieve the pain?
Many pregnant women have symptoms most often at night or when they first wake up in the morning. Whenever feel the twinges, shift sleep position and try to prop arm up with a pillow or two. If there is lot of discomfort, try stabilizing wrist in a neutral position with a splint. In any case it is necessary to avoid sleeping on hands. When working at a computer, adjust the height of the chair so the wrists aren’t flexed while typing. If possible, avoid jobs requiring forceful, repetitive hand movements. Although they may not have caused carpal tunnel, they can make symptoms worse. Remember to take breaks to stretch hands. Practicing yoga can also help relieve the pain and increase hand strength. Pregnant women who develop carpal tunnel are not likely to develop this condition again unless there is another pregnancy. Since the problem usually clears up after the delivery. For women who have experienced such symptoms prior to their pregnancy may get it more during pregnancy. It is possible the problem won’t go away and one may need to visit physician.