As a family based chiropractor, I see a lot of pregnant patients in my practice. I most often see women who are experiencing pain around their pelvis and lower back during their pregnancy. The majority of pregnant women will experience pain in these regions, as these areas see a great deal of stress, resulting from the increasing abdominal weight of the growing baby (check out this blog post for more information on how pregnancy can cause back pain.)
However, there is another condition that can be quite common during pregnancy that particularly affects the hands and wrists. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and the associated pain many mamas have to deal with when expecting a baby can be very restrictive and difficult to manage. Luckily, there are things your chiropractor can do to help alleviate the pain.
What Is Carpal Tunnel?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition that occurs when there is too much pressure on the median nerve in the wrist. It may include symptoms of tingling, numbness and pain in the wrists, hands and fingers.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is very common during and after pregnancy. In fact, one in four pregnant women may experience carpal tunnel syndrome, most often during the second or third trimester and in some cases several weeks after the baby’s birth. Development of carpal tunnel during a pregnancy or post-partum also increases the chances of it to recur in future pregnancies.
What Happens During Pregnancy
When pregnant, your blood volume increases by up to 50 percent in order to nourish the uterus, placenta and baby. This extra volume of blood and retention of extra body fluid (edema) in wrist tissue can increase the pressure within the carpal tunnel and therefore impact upon the health and function on your hand and wrist nerves.
The build-up of edema in wrist tissue and the carpal tunnel during pregnancy can compress the median nerve which runs to your hand and fingers, leading to carpal tunnel syndrome. The symptoms may be exacerbated if repetitive hand and wrist movements occur for a significant amount of time, for example typing for many hours at work.
Carpal tunnel is diagnosed by the aforementioned symptoms, in conjunction with a number of non-invasive tests and a physical assessment done by a chiropractor. Depending on symptoms and circumstance, an ultrasound or other imaging may be advised in order to check for irregularities in the wrist. Unclear symptoms may require other investigations in order to determine precisely where the origin of the problem is.
Treatment for carpal tunnel may include using a wrist splint to enable the wrist to rest, thereby reducing the swelling in the tunnel. Your chiropractor may also use therapeutic ultrasound and manual treatments to reduce inflammation and swelling, improve movements in the hand and wrist and prescribe exercises to maintain the strength of the hand and wrist.
Being fitted for a high-quality, supportive maternity bra can help to reduce the pressure on your rib cage and breastbone, which in turn reduces the pressure on the nerves that supply the shoulder and arms, thereby reducing symptoms of nerve compression. If you are not sure where to go in the Edmonton area for a proper maternity bra fitting, check out Yo Mama Maternity Boutique.
It should be noted that having carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy and the treatment for it will not harm your baby in any way.
Further discussion with your chiropractor on how to manage symptoms and adapt your household and work activities to work around the condition and alleviate its symptoms can be very helpful.
If you are pregnant and experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome give us a call today to help alleviate your pain.