Carpel Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a common complication in pregnancy, with it affecting over half of all pregnant women. Median nerve function is impaired in virtually all pregnant women during the third trimester, even in the absence of symptoms.
CTS is caused by compression of the median nerve, located at the carpel tunnel in the wrist. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can increase fluid retention, increasing pressure within this tunnel and restricting the movement and function of the median nerve.
Common symptoms of Carpel Tunnel are;
- Tingling or numbness down the thumb, index, middle or ring fingers
- Sharp or stabbing pain that shoots from the wrist
- Weakness in the hand, or difficulty gripping
- Symptoms are generally worse at night and patients will often wake with pain and numbness.
- Morning stiffness and cramping is also very common.
- Symptoms can be exacerbated by forceful activity and extreme wrist positions.
CTS more commonly affects women who are having a multiple birth pregnancy, who are overweight, or who have had a history of CTS in previous pregnancy.
Myotherapists can diagnose CTS to a high degree of specificity via history and physical examination. Treatment is symptomatic and usually consists of activity modification, splinting, oedema control and massage to move fluids. Luckily the vast majority of women experience symptomatic improvement following the delivery of their baby.
In a small number of cases symptoms will persist up to at least 3 years post-partum and women will continue to wear their wrist splints during this time. Treatment with a Myotherapist ensures an accurate diagnosis can be made for CTS. A strong correlation exists for women who are closely monitored and treated throughout each trimester, with a more rapid reduction of symptoms.
By Lani Watt- Elite Myotherapist