Q: My wrists and hands have been feeling numb now that I'm pregnant. What's causing this, and what can I do?
A: It sounds like you're describing a mild case of carpal tunnel syndrome, which can affect up to 35 percent of pregnant women. Starting in your second trimester, increased swelling and fluid retention in the arms and wrists (caused by hormonal changes and weight gain) can compress a nerve in your wrist called the median nerve, which results in the tingling feeling and numbness you describe.
While the majority of pregnancy-related carpal tunnel cases go away after your baby is born, here are some tips to feel better when it strikes now:
• When you feel the sensations coming on, shake or rub your hands to rev up circulation, or apply an ice pack to ease swelling and achiness.
• Wear splints (available at drugstores) when you're using the computer or driving for long periods of time; this helps minimize symptoms by keeping your wrists straight and supported. If your wrists hurt at night, you can also wear splints to bed.
• Spend most of your workday hunched over a computer? Be sure to take frequent breaks and reposition your chair so your wrists aren't bent while you type.
• Watch your salt intake. Consuming too much can cause swelling and worsen symptoms.