What is the Connection Between Carpal Tunnel and Pregnancy?

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  • Written By: Autumn Rivers
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 20 January 2019
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Carpal tunnel and pregnancy often occur together, as excessive swelling can compress the nerves in the hand, resulting in numbness and tingling. For this reason, the problem is typically worse in the morning, as fluid tends to build up overnight. Additionally, it often gets worse as the pregnancy continues since more swelling usually occurs. Fortunately, the issue usually goes away once the pregnancy ends, though it may take a few months since the swelling may take that long to go away. In the meantime, a wrist brace, ergonomic keyboard, and avoiding repetitive movements can help reduce the symptoms.

Many people do not associate carpal tunnel and pregnancy together since it is commonly assumed that the issue is only experienced by those who spend a lot of time on the computer. Unfortunately, the swelling brought on by pregnancy compresses the median nerve in the hand, causing the fingers to feel numb since this nerve is responsible for allowing them to both feel and move. Thus, the more swelling there is, the more compression usually occurs, resulting in a strong association between carpal tunnel and pregnancy.


While tingling and numbness are the most common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, it is also normal to feel burning and sharp pains. The hands may also feel weak, stiff, and cramped up, making them difficult to move correctly. Some people experiencing both carpal tunnel and pregnancy at the same time may wake up often at night due to the pain in their hands. When combined with the insomnia and other discomforts often brought on by pregnancy, carpal tunnel can make this period in a woman's life unbearable unless treatment is sought.

Since it is considered normal for carpal tunnel and pregnancy to occur together, most doctors are not concerned when symptoms arise, as they should go away after delivery of the baby. Meanwhile, one of the recommended treatments includes wearing a wrist brace, especially when working on the computer or making any other repetitive motions. Investing in an ergonomic keyboard, strengthening the hands through targeted exercises, and stretching and shaking the hands often are all inexpensive ways to deal with the issue. If the carpal tunnel and pregnancy do not both end at the same time, patients can take ibuprofen to help reduce the swelling in the hands, though a doctor should also be consulted for further treatment. It may be necessary to go to a specialist if severe numbness and weakness in the hands is present.



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