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Wrist and hand pain during pregnancy – Why??

Carpal Tunnel – How can Physio help?

Do you have pain in your wrist, arm or hand? With some numbness and tingling? Did it come on gradually during or after pregnancy?

Wrist, arm or hand pain with numbness or tingling can be due to carpal tunnel syndrome. This is a very common complaint we see in the clinic. So why does it happen?

Carpal tunnel syndrome can be caused by increased load on your wrists, or tends to be more common during and after pregnancy. This can occur due to changes in hormones, fluid retention or swelling, or when it comes on after birth, this can be due to the increased load of caring for a newborn.

This condition is caused by pressure on the nerves that run through the wrist. It tends to start gradually, with symptoms increasing over time, sometimes associated with increasing activity. Carpal tunnel syndrome can be caused by anything that irritates the wrist, or structures in the wrist such as the tendons or nerves.

The main nerve affected is the median nerve, which provides sensation to the thumb and first two fingers. If you have numbness or tingling in the thumb and first two fingers, your median nerve may be contributing to your symptoms. You may also experience weakness in your hand.

Aggravating tasks may be anything that involves gripping, lifting or repetitive hand movements like typing or writing.

We often treat carpal tunnel syndrome during and after pregnancy, as well as in musicians, hairdressers, builders, chefs and childcare educators. All these jobs require elements of fine motor activities, and lots of the same task repeated throughout the day.

Carpal tunnel can occur at any time, although occurs more frequently in women aged 40 to 60 years, and during or after pregnancy with the associated swelling, hormone changes and physical demand of lifting and carrying.

What is Carpal Tunnel syndrome?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is characterised by pain in the wrist, hand or arm. It may also present with numbness, tingling or weakness in your hand, particularly affected the thumb, index finger and middle finger.

It occurs when there is increased pressure and irritation to the nerves that run through the wrist. In some cases, this occurs for no obvious reason. In other cases, it can be due to increased loading on the wrists, particularly with repetitive tasks such as typing, gripping, writing or other fine motor tasks. Poor positioning can contribute, so make sure you’re avoiding awkward positions when you’re working!

carpal tunnel physio

What causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome during or after pregnancy?

In many cases, there is no obvious cause to explain carpal tunnel syndrome, and it seems to come on for no reason. Here are some of the risk factors that can increase your chance of developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Women aged 40 – 60 years

Pregnant women

Conditions involving fluid retention

People who do repetitive tasks in their day to day activities such as hairdressers, or computer based jobs

Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome common?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be common, and is more common during and after pregnancy. The contributing factors during this time include hormonal changes, fluid retention adding pressure to your wrists, and the sudden increase in lifting once baby is born.

Many of us spend a lot of time on computers and scrolling on phones, which are both activities that can contribute to developing this condition.

We treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome often in our Physio Clinic, and the sooner we can start treatment, the better your chances of overcoming this painful condition quickly.

What can I do to prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Unfortunately there are no guarantees with the human body, but there are things you can do to reduce your risk of developing this condition.

  • Strength based exercise will help overall conditioning, so you have better capacity to cope with day to day life
  • Be conscious of wrist positions, so they are relaxed and supported when doing tasks like carrying and feeding baby
  • Building strength through your trunk, shoulder, forearm and wrist may assist too
carpal tunnel glenelg
Physio treatment for forearm pain

Carpal Tunnel – How can Physio help?

What can I do if I have wrist pain?

A Physiotherapy Assessment is a good place to start. This will identify where the issue is coming from, so treatment can be targeted and effective.

Initially treatment involves relative rest as much as possible and potentially taping or wrist splints to reduce symptoms. In many cases you will need physiotherapy treatment, including massage, dry needling and taping to help recovery. Treatment may focus on reducing nerve irritation, reducing aggravating factors, and increasing overall strength and conditioning, to better support your wrists. Conservative physiotherapy management can generally provide relief in 2 to 6 weeks.

Treatment may vary from person to person, depending on the current aggravating tasks, timeframe of current symptoms, and current strength level. Some injuries can take longer to heal when an injury has been there for a longer timeframe.

Are you having trouble with carpal tunnel during or after pregnancy?

Book in to see one of our Physios at Aspire to be fully assessed. We can commence treatment immediately to ease your pain. Find out what you specifically need to do to overcome your symptoms. You can book online here.