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Carpal tunnel syndrome is quite a mouthful. You can be confronted with it during your pregnancy because of fluid accumulation in the arm(s). This can be expressed by tingling or aching hands. Do you wave and wiggle your arms and hands a lot to get rid of the feeling? If so, this can be the first sign of *taking a breath* carpal tunnel syndrome. 

What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

On the palm side of the wrist is the carpal tunnel, a passageway for nerves and tendons that run to the hand. When you retain a lot of fluid in the hands and arms, the nerves that run through the tunnel can become pinched. This can cause pain, tingling and a numb feeling in the thumb, palm and fingers. Loss of strength in the hand (particularly in the thumb) is also a well-known symptom of carpal tunnel syndrome. Have you been dropping things quickly lately? Chances are it is due to carpal tunnel syndrome (Family physician). Maybe you're not as clumsy as you thought after all!

How can I reduce the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?

Usually, carpal tunnel syndrome in pregnant women is not treated medically, because in many cases it disappears on its own when the fluid accumulation subsides after the birth. However, we do have a number of tips to help reduce the symptoms:

Cold water - After showering, put the cold jet on your arm. Cold water stimulates the blood circulation. A cold shower is obviously not going to make anyone happy, but chances are it will help!

Put your hand up higher - If you are lying in bed or on the couch, you can put your hand a bit higher by putting a cushion or something like that under it. 

Keep your wrist straight - The symptoms will be less if you keep your wrist straight as much as possible. A wrist protector for skating or a special splint can help with this.

Wiggle your fingers above your head - If you suffer from tingling in your fingers, it may help to wiggle your fingers above your head. 

Take it easy. - However unpleasant it may be, pregnancy ailments are simply part and parcel of being pregnant. Therefore, try to avoid tasks that require you to use your hands and wrists a lot (InfoNow).  

How is carpal tunnel syndrome diagnosed?

When you go to the doctor, he or she can often make a diagnosis on the basis of your symptoms. In less clear-cut cases, the GP can refer you to a neurologist. He or she will make a nerve ultrasound to see what the nerve in the arm looks like. If the nerve is somewhat larger than normal, it is often a case of carpal tunnel syndrome. If a nerve ultrasound is not possible, an EMG is done. This is used to test how quickly the nerve transmits signals to the skin. If you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, this will be slower than normal (Family physician). 

Take care, Mom!

If you are in a lot of pain you can use paracetamol. This is completely safe for you and your baby and can often give just that little bit of relief you are longing for. Keep an eye on the activities after which the symptoms get worse or perhaps even lessen. Maybe you can make some adjustments in your daily activities to make it more pleasant for yourself. After all, there are already enough pregnancy ailments, this one does not need to be added to the list.

Sources:

InfoNow. (2019, April 9). Carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy. Consulted from https://mens-en-gezondheid.infonu.nl/zwangerschap/154877-carpaal-tunnel-syndroom-tijdens-de-zwangerschap.html

Home Doctor. (2017, June 30). I have carpal tunnel syndrome. Consulted from https://www.thuisarts.nl/carpale-tunnelsyndroom/ik-heb-carpale-tunnelsyndroom