Carpal tunnel syndrome or arm numbness during pregnancy is pretty common. Let us see what are the causes and treatment for this condition.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is more often than not associated with people who repeatedly use their hands and fingers. Data entry processors, software professionals, writers, etc., are prone to acquiring this condition. Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused due to pressure on the median nerve, which passes through the tunnel formed by carpal bones. There are many tendons, ligaments which pass through this narrow channel to connect the wrist with hand. An increase in pressure in this passage leads to carpal tunnel syndrome. Arm numbness, pain, burning sensation are some of the common carpal tunnel symptoms.
Causes of Arm Numbness During Pregnancy
As mentioned above, carpal tunnel syndrome is caused due to pressure on the median nerve. Median nerve is responsible for providing sensation in thumb, index, middle and half of ring finger. In pregnancy, there is a lot of swelling and fluid retention in the body. As a result, the pressure in the carpal tunnel also increases. This causes compression of the median nerve, which eventually leads to the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome in pregnancy.
The median nerve is responsible for the sensation in the fingers. Hence, compression of this nerve has an adverse effect on the sensation of fingers. You may experience, tingling, burning or numbness in fingers and in wrist. Sometimes, the feeling of numbness may extend up to the arms or in shoulders. Apart from arms going numb during pregnancy, you may also experience dull ache in the above mentioned regions. Rarely, you may experience severe weakness in your hands.
The symptoms of numb hands during pregnancy are more pronounced in the second trimester. Usually, there is no treatment necessary for this condition as the problem resolves on its own after delivery. However, you can certainly try some simple measures and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome to relieve the pain due to this condition. If your job requires you to use your hand repetitively you can try positioning your hand at an elevated level while working. Using an ergonomic keyboard can be a good option to relieve pain due to typing. Try flexing your fingers and wriggling them many a time throughout the day, so as to ease the pressure on the median nerve. Also roll your shoulders to reduce the numbness in arms.
If you must work during your pregnancy, try wearing wrist braces or splints for better support and to maximize the space in the carpal tunnel. This can reduce tingling fingers to some extent. If your symptoms become particularly bothersome at night, then try elevating your hand by propping a couple of pillows under it. You should avoid sleeping on your side, so as not to damage the affected hand further. It is possible that you might wake up at night due to extreme numbness. At such times, try shaking your hands and fingers, until the feeling subsides completely.
Arm numbness should subside within a couple of weeks of delivery. However, if you experience it longer than that, you may want to see your doctor. You may be prescribed with some pain relieving anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen. In severe cases of pain and numbness, cortisol injections may be recommended to reduce swelling and pain. Very rarely, a small surgery may be recommended to relieve the pressure from the median nerve.
Arm numbness in pregnancy must be treated under the guidance of a medical professional only. Do not attempt to treat it with over the counter medications, as they may pose danger to your baby. Simple hand and shoulder exercises, and yoga can help you to control the pain and swelling resulting from carpal tunnel syndrome.