MY ARMS HURT
Q: I’m 38 weeks pregnant and in the last few weeks I’ve been experiencing pain in my arms. It starts from the elbow and goes down to my hands and fingers. A: Tina says: It sounds as if you have carpal tunnel pain. This occurs when there’s increased pressure within the carpal tunnel, the small bony canal that forms part of the wrist bone. This is usually caused by water retention – another side effect of the pregnancy hormones. It presents as mild to severe pain, numbness and sometimes weakness in the hands, wrists and forearms. When there’s increased pressure on the nerves in the carpal tunnel, there will be a decrease in the blood flow, resulting in a lack of oxygen and nutrients. This means that the nerve can’t send the necessary impulses to the rest of the limb. This pressure on the nerves causes numbness, discomfort or pain in the carpal tunnel and the discomfort may be felt along the entire length of the arm, right up to the shoulder. Grasping and pinching may become difficult and you may find yourself becoming clumsy. For many women the discomfort is most acute in the morning after their arms have been inactive during sleep. The pain can occur at night, further disrupting sleep patterns. It tends to worsen during the third trimester. This usually disappears within weeks after birth. Tips to ease discomfort: Rolling an ice cube over the wrist can reduce swelling. At night, some women have the tendency to curl their wrists. Since they are sleeping, the best way to ensure their wrists stay in a neutral position is through the use of wrist splints. Raise the affected hand above your head for a few minutes while you wiggle your fingers and slowly rotate your wrist. Don’t carry heavy parcels. Massage the fingers with arnica oil to relieve stiffness.