Carpal tunnel syndrome and pregnancy | Pregnancy Birth and Baby beginning of content
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that occurs when swelling in your wrist presses on a nerve and causes pain in your hand.
It’s common in pregnancy and usually goes away after your baby is born.
It can cause pain, numbness and tingling in your thumb, index finger and middle finger. It can also cause weakness in your hand and pain going up your arm.
You can modify your daily activities to reduce your pain.
See a physiotherapist or occupational therapist to learn exercises and get a special wrist splint fitted to help relieve pain.
What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that occurs as a result of swelling around the nerves of your wrist. It can cause numbness, tingling or pain in one or both of your hands.
If you are pregnant, you’re particularly susceptible to the disorder. Up to 5 out of every 10 people who are pregnant develop carpal tunnel syndrome.
What causes carpal tunnel syndrome?
The carpal tunnel is a passage in your wrist that contains tendons and a nerve, called the median nerve, that run through the base of your hand. The carpal tunnel can swell and press against this sensitive nerve, causing pain.
While pregnancy is one cause, other common causes include arthritis or repetitive hand movements, which may occur in some jobs. Visit this healthdirect page for information about carpal tunnel syndrome unrelated to pregnancy.
How does pregnancy cause carpal tunnel syndrome?
When you are pregnant, your hormones cause fluid to build up in your body, which can cause swelling. This can lead to swelling within the carpal tunnel.
The condition is more common in the third trimester, but it can also happen in the first and second trimesters or after you give birth. In most cases, symptoms will go away after your baby is born.
What are the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?
Common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include:
pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness of your hand
difficulty with hand coordination
pain spreading to your arm or shoulder
You will probably feel the symptoms most in your thumb, index finger and middle finger. Symptoms can get worse at night.
The intensity of symptoms can vary from mild irritation or occasional soreness, to severe pain. Symptoms may stop you from sleeping or make it difficult to perform regular tasks such as working, getting dressed, cooking or caring for your baby.
Things that may make your symptoms worse include:
repeating the same hand movements frequently
keeping your hands in the same position for an extended time
supporting your weight with straightened arms
Swelling may be a sign of high blood pressure in pregnancy. If your hands or feet are more swollen than usual, speak to your doctor or midwife.
What can I do to relieve carpal tunnel syndrome?
You may find that your pain is reduced by the following:
Keep your hands elevated as much as you can.
Keep your wrists in a neutral position (not bent forwards or backwards), as much as you can.
Maintain good posture in your arms and wrists while working at a desk and take breaks every 20 minutes.
Sleep on the side of your less affected hand.
Put an ice pack on your wrist or run cold water over your hand.
Here are some things you should avoid:
Avoid any repeated movements that make your pain worse.
Avoid lifting heavy objects.
Avoid tasks where you do the same movement repeatedly.
Don’t bend your wrist as far as it can go.
Here are some things you can do to relieve general swelling in your body:
Lie down whenever you can, with your feet elevated.
Cut down on salt in foods.
Elevate your legs when you’re sitting down.
Wear compression socks or stockings.
Are there any treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome?
Treatment options include physiotherapy or occupational therapy. This may involve fitting you with a splint to keep your wrist in the best position to reduce strain. The splint must be adjusted to fit your wrist in order to be protective and supportive. You should wear your splint at night to keep your wrist in the right position while you’re asleep.
Your therapist will be able to tell you how best to protect your wrist at home, including exercises and resting positions.
You can try fluid drainage massage to reduce the swelling in your hand. You can do this by lifting your arm up and using your other hand to sweep gently along your skin from your fingers towards your shoulder. Be careful not to sweep the other way.
There are other treatments available for carpal tunnel syndrome, such as a cortisone injection into your wrist or even surgery.
Will I still have pain after my baby is born?
Carpal tunnel syndrome tends to ease, and often disappears, after birth. If you still have pain after your baby is born, you may need to change the way you use your wrist. This might affect how you use your hand to hold and care for your baby, including how you feed your baby.
Speak to your physiotherapist, occupational therapist or lactation consultant for strategies and tips on how to minimise strain on your wrist while holding your newborn. It’s a good idea to continue using your splint, if you have one.
Royal Women’s Hospital (Pregnancy-related carpal tunnel syndrome), Australian Government Department of Health (Carpal tunnel syndrome), Western Australia Department of Health (Carpal tunnel syndrome), Western Sydney local Heath District (Fact Sheet Carpal Tunnel Syndrome)
Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.
Last reviewed: June 2022
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Carpal tunnel syndrome can be caused by repetitive hand movements, pregnancy and arthritis.
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Carpal tunnel syndrome is a progressive and painful condition where the median nerve is compressed as it passes through the carpal tunnel.
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Pregnancy: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome | Kaiser Permanente
Tingling, numbness, and pain in the hands are common during pregnancy, especially in the last trimester. These problems are usually caused by carpal tunnel syndrome, and they usually go away after pregnancy.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a specific group of symptoms that can include tingling, numbness, weakness, or pain in the fingers, thumb, hand, and occasionally in the arm. These symptoms occur when there is pressure on the median nerve within the wrist.
The carpal tunnel is a small space or "tunnel" in the wrist formed by the wrist bones (carpal bones) and a ligament (transverse carpal ligament). The median nerve and several tendons pass through the carpal tunnel from the forearm to the hand. The median nerve controls some movements of the thumb, and this nerve supplies feeling to most of the thumb and to the index finger, middle finger, and part of the ring finger.
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when a combination of health conditions and activities puts pressure on the median nerve as it passes through the carpal tunnel in your wrist. Anything that decreases the amount of space in the carpal tunnel, increases the amount of tissue in the tunnel, or increases the sensitivity of the median nerve can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.
The swelling that is common in pregnancy can crowd structures in the tunnel and lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, especially when combined with forceful or repetitive hand and finger movement or the use of vibrating equipment.
If your symptoms are not severe, expect your health professional to recommend nonsurgical treatment to see whether symptoms improve. Nonsurgical treatment includes:
Changing or avoiding activities that may be causing symptoms, and taking frequent breaks from repetitive tasks.
Wearing a wrist splint to keep your wrist straight, usually just at night. See an illustration of a wrist splint.
Doing exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles in the hand and arm.
Learning ways to protect your joints as you go through your daily activities.
Unless carpal tunnel symptoms become intolerable, a pregnant woman should delay surgery until after childbirth. After delivery, symptoms often disappear without treatment when pregnancy-related fluid buildup is relieved.
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Hands hurt during pregnancy
Carpal tunnel syndrome: characteristic symptoms
Pain occurs, as already mentioned, due to compression of the median nerve, so the most innervation is carried out not by the median nerve, but by the outgoing branches of the ulnar nerve), wrist, palmar surface of the hand.
The period characteristic for the manifestation of this disease, when the wrist of the left hand most often hurts, is the 3rd trimester of pregnancy.
The nature of the discomfort is determined by the fact that the hands and wrists hurt, swell and go numb during pregnancy, sometimes trembling of the fingers may be present.
In addition to the above, vasoconstriction, increased sensitivity of the hands to cold, and pallor of the skin are added. Most often, the disease manifests itself at night, but symptoms can also be observed during the day.
If pain occurs in the little finger or on the back of the hand, then this indicates the presence of another disease, since these parts of the hand have a different innervation.
Often the syndrome resolves after labor. A woman's normal, prenatal metabolism is restored. . However, if the disease persists, then you need to contact a hematologist (nephrologist, neuropathologist, cardiologist) to prescribe drug therapy. Physiotherapy also helps to avoid the frequent occurrence of pain.
If the situation does not improve, then surgical treatment must be applied.
Cause of pain
So, why do hands hurt during pregnancy? As a rule, during this period, a woman begins to gain weight, which is the physiological norm for this condition. However, after weight gain, edema may appear, indicating a violation of the water-salt metabolism in the body. Here, a woman may complain that her joints of the hands hurt during pregnancy. Along with the violation of water-salt metabolism, there is a decrease in blood flow.
Innervation changes due to nerve compression. Due to the current situation, the nerve cannot conduct nerve impulses normally, and this, in turn, leads to a lack of impulses in the wrist and hand area.
Most often, women who suffer from kidney and heart problems, as well as overweight, rheumatic diseases, and fractures in the area of the hands suffer from diseases. Pregnant women also have reduced immunity, so most often they have exacerbated chronic diseases.
The hands are the most painful, since everything has to be done with the hands. In addition to numbness, pain, in the hands there may be sensations such as: hand tremor; the appearance of heaviness in the hands; feeling of weakness in the fingers; itching in the palms.
Many women are forced to remove jewelry from their fingers and hands due to severe discomfort and pain.
How to get rid of the disease
If you are still overtaken by this disease, first you need to adjust your lifestyle and diet.
Taking into account the fact that the body of a pregnant woman is undergoing restructuring, she needs the so-called "building materials". These include vitamins (especially vitamins K, B12, B6, C, E - they are all involved in hematopoiesis). Therefore, you should eat meat products (poultry), vegetables (peppers, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers), fruits (oranges, lemons, apples, bananas, kiwi), berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries), also legumes, dairy products. Flour products and foods rich in starch should be excluded from the diet.
After adjusting the diet, physical activity should be put in order. So, if you are busy with one thing, during which the woman does not particularly move, you need to periodically perform exercises for the hands: shake, make circular movements with the hands, squeeze and unclench your fingers several times, bringing them into a fist.
If possible, try to avoid unnecessary stress on the hands (lean less on the hands, use special splints during a night's sleep). Do not forget that some pain sensations are a sign of the presence of severe or chronic diseases, so you need to tell your doctor about these sensations, who observes you throughout your pregnancy. Compliance with all these rules will help you reduce pain, or even completely get rid of them. And also spend your difficult, but very happy nine months in a good mood.
Joint pain during pregnancy
Joint pain during pregnancy is the most painful manifestation of diseases of the musculoskeletal system. In order to correctly “decipher” the signals of your body during pregnancy, you must, first of all, be well versed in the causes of joint pain during pregnancy - only then you can apply the right treatment and avoid many complications.
A joint is the moving part of a limb where two bones meet. Bones are held in place by ligaments (strong bands of tissue) and moved by muscles and tendons (the latter attaching the muscle to the bone). Pain in any of these parts is considered joint pain.
Arthritis is an inflammation of one or more joints or their tendons and ligaments (connective tissue). Inflammation is indicated by the following symptoms:
More than 100 pathological conditions, such as infections and blood disorders, contribute to the development of arthritis:
lesion of one joint - monoarthritis;
damage to two or three joints - oligoarthritis;
defeat of more than three joints - polyarthritis.
Pain in the joints in bacterial lesions is not associated with physical exertion: they occur even in a state of physical rest of a person and noticeably increase with movement. In this case, there is swelling and redness of the skin around the joint, a feeling of stiffness - especially in the morning, there is a change in the shape and shape of the joint caused by inflammation of the articular tissues, a violation of the bone and cartilage surfaces of the joint and the accumulation of inflammatory fluid in its cavity. There are also such common0049 symptoms:
Pain significantly affects the daily life of a woman during pregnancy. Pain is not only an unpleasant sensation. Pain affects everyday worries, a person's ability to provide for his own life, and relationships with others.
Most pregnant women will not be able to distinguish joint pain from joint pain, let alone more severe damage. Only a specialist can determine what exactly caused the pain.
Arthritis is a generic term for inflammation of the joints - however, it is not yet a diagnosis. To date, scientists distinguish about 100 types of arthritis. Correct diagnosis means correct treatment, which is why the question of making a diagnosis is so important.
Pain in the joints during pregnancy
During pregnancy secretion of a hormone called relaxin increases, which softens the ligaments of the pelvis and allows them to stretch elastically: this is necessary for normal childbirth. The only problem is that relaxin acts on any ligamentous tissue, including elbows, knees, shoulders. Therefore, even your usual weight can be risky for weakened joints, which can lead to joint pain.
Joint pain not associated with pregnancy :
Degenerative joint disease
A common form of arthritic disease. With age, the elastic cartilage that protects the joints from damage and injury hardens, loses elasticity, and becomes more vulnerable.
Cartilage wears off, ligaments and tendons stretch, causing pain. Osteoarthritis can affect any joint, most commonly in the fingers, hips, knees, and spine.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis include pain in the joints, bony bumps on the knuckles. Pain medications, nutritional supplements (aminoglucose, chondroitin) will help relieve pain. Certain changes in a person’s lifestyle may also be needed, it is necessary to play sports, follow a diet to reduce weight and reduce stress on the joints.
This type of arthritis is very different from degenerative joint disease. Inflammation of the joints develops in both parts of the body - symmetry, which helps to diagnose this type of disease. Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis also include pain and swelling in the joints, immobility, weakness. Some scientists believe that viruses and bacteria can affect the body's immune system, causing it to attack the joints and other organs.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a rather dangerous disease that can lead to death. The key to successful treatment of rheumatoid arthritis is early diagnosis, as well as intensive care. These two factors can prevent disability and prolong a person's life.
Polymyalgia rheumatica and temporal arteritis are inflammatory diseases that often accompany each other. Polymyalgia rheumatica affects large joints, such as the hips and shoulders.
Temporal arteritis - inflammation of the blood vessels of the head, including the eyes. Both diseases are caused by the immune system attacking healthy tissues. Pain and stiffness of the shoulder and hip joints, fever, weight loss, weakness - Often the only symptom is severe weakness that prevents a person from getting up from a chair or bringing a hand to their face. The most common symptom of temporal arteritis is acute headache.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease that is accompanied by pain and sensitivity of many points on the body, as well as insomnia and weakness. The cause of the development of this disease is still unknown, however, it is definitely not associated with injuries to the muscles, nerves and joints.
One theory suggests that the disease is related to hypersensitivity of nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain. Another theory suggests that fibromyalgia is linked to an imbalance of chemicals in the human body that are responsible for mood and pain perception.