Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition that affects some pre and postnatal women. It affects the hands, fingers and forearms, so if you’ve noticed a tingling sensation or pain in these areas during pregnancy or after birth, perhaps it’s the early onset of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Carpal tunnel syndrome doesn’t just affect pre/postnatal women though – I’ve had it myself, and lots of computer users and/or people who use their hands repetitively for their job, also suffer with this condition.

It’s often brought on by over-use movements in the mainstream population, but during pregnancy, it’s largely due to swelling resulting from increased fluid retention. Its symptoms can range from mild/irritating to very painful/debilitating.

Here are 5 FAQs for you to read through about carpal tunnel syndrome:

WHAT IS CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME?
Pins and needles in the hands during pregnancy may be caused by the compression of one or the main nerves that travel into your hand, through a bony space in the wrist called the carpal tunnel, hence its name. Fluid retention and an increase in weight gain during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy can often cause this.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME?
The symptoms include pins and needles, numbness and pain in the thumb, first and middle fingers, and half of the fourth finger, and can progress to pain the in the wrist, hand and forearm. The symptoms are typically worse at night, as gravity causes the fluids to collect in the hands
during the day, resulting in increased swelling and pressure.

WHAT CAN I DO TO COMBAT CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME?
The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome can be relieved by wearing splints to keep the wrists in a fixed/neutral position and allow greater space for the nerve tissues in your wrist to function better. This is especially important at night, to avoid the tendency to sleep on the hands or tuck them up excessively.

WHAT CAN I DO TO MAKE IT FEEL BETTER?
Care is required when exercising and you need to make sure the neutral alignment of your hand, wrist and shoulder are maintained throughout. During a hands and knees exercise, try placing a rolled up towel under the hands to lessen the angle at your wrist, or a folded towel or flat cushion under the heels of the hands. Or, you could try placing your forearms on the floor and/or chair.

WILL IT CARRY ON AFTER BIRTH?
Generally, in most cases, carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms usually resolve themselves soon after the birth of your baby, but I’d strongly suggest that, if symptoms do persist, your Doctor/GP may refer you on to a Physiotherapist or similar for specialist treatment.