Pregnancy Symptoms & Complaints: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Swelling and fluid retention in the arms and wrists during pregnancy can lead to numbness and tingling. Find out more about what causes carpal tunnel and how to feel better.

What causes carpal tunnel in pregnancy?

Your belly isn't the only part of your body that swells during pregnancy, and fluid retention in the arms and wrists can put pressure on nerves there. The result: a temporary case of carpal tunnel syndrome. This condition shows up in about a quarter of all pregnant women, making hands and wrists feel numb and achy. If the numbness is limited to your fingertips, postural changes in your upper back- in response to your changing center of gravity- may be putting pressure on nerves near your shoulders.

What relieves carpal tunnel in pregnancy?

In most cases, carpal tunnel syndrome is a minor nuisance, but if yours is unusually painful, your healthcare provider may suggest wearing splints at night to keep your wrists straight. Limit activities such as typing and riding a bicycle (even a stationary one), since gripping the handlebars forces you to hold your hands in a flexed position. Take breaks from repetitive activities and practice good posture. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, often used to treat this problem, are not recommended during pregnancy.

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