Your Pregnancy - - Q & A -

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.

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