Dealing with Carpal Tunnel When Pregnant

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be a surprising side effect of pregnancy. Issues like heartburn, swollen feet and morning sickness are common complaints we often associate with pregnancy. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a less well-known pregnancy complaint, but it can be equally as bothersome, causing pain and mobility issues in the arms and hands. So how do you deal with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome when pregnant? Let’s learn more about this condition and what you can do to improve your symptoms during pregnancy.

At Oakland Spine and Physical Therapy, we often treat pregnant women who are experiencing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome along with other conditions such as back pain and leg stiffness. Our holistic approach is completely safe because it’s non-invasive and doesn’t rely on prescription pain medication. Instead, we work to address the underlying reasons for your pain and work to solve it in a gentle, effective manner. Our convenient locations in Oakland, Wayne, Fair Lawn, and Closter, New Jersey offer a variety of therapies including chiropractic care, acupuncture, massage and physical therapy.

What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome During Pregnancy?

According to a 2015 study in the obstetrics journal BJOC, between approximately 30 to 60 percent of pregnant women may experience Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. That makes it a fairly common condition worth understanding better. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is often considered a repetitive stress injury. But pregnancy can also trigger it to occur on its own. That means you don’t need to be typing too much or using your hands too much to experience this condition when pregnant.

What makes pregnancy trigger Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? There’s no definitive scientific correlation, but doctors believe it’s related to hormonal changes and the increase in fluid build-up, the same which causes feet and legs to swell. This excess fluid can add pressure to nerves in your shoulder, neck, and arms, particularly the median nerve. This nerve extends from the shoulder to the hand, so when pressure is created, these parts of the body can be affected.

What are the Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome During Pregnancy?

There can be some confusion about what Carpal Tunnel Syndrome feels like. Typical symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome include:

  • Numbness
  • Tingling or feeling like your fingers have “fallen asleep” or a “pins and needles” sensation
  • Problems moving fingers and fine motor skill difficulties
  • Issues with grip strength
  • Pain and throbbing in the hand, wrist or forearm region

These symptoms can occur during the day but many people experience them at night while they sleep. Bending the wrist can increase pressure and exacerbate the condition, particularly when excess fluid is present. The symptoms can also be experienced in one or both hands and may become more pronounced in the later months of pregnancy.

What are Common Risk Factors for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome during Pregnancy?

You might be wondering if there are any conditions or factors that make someone more susceptible to experiencing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. There are in fact some variables that can contribute to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome being more likely to occur. These include being overweight or obese, pregnancy-related diabetes and hypertension as well as having been pregnant before.

What Can I Do to Relieve Carpal Tunnel Syndrome During Pregnancy?

Since Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is so common during pregnancy, it’s important to understand how to address the symptoms so you can find relief from the discomfort and immobility caused by the condition. Below are six treatment options which can help relieve some of the symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome during pregnancy.


One of the most common methods for improving Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a wrist splint or kinesiology tape, which can be used to help keep the wrist straight, particularly during sleep.

Chiropractic Adjustments

Chiropractic adjustments during pregnancy are safe and effective for a number of pregnancy-related complaints. Your chiropractor will focus on the neck region and help you get back to a proper alignment that can help reduce pain and pressure in your back, shoulders, neck and arms.

Physical Therapy

There are numerous exercises and stretches that can help relieve shoulder and arm pressure. A trained physical therapist can help you to learn the proper way to perform these stretches so you don’t risk injury.

Cold and Hot Therapy

Alternating between a cold compress and heating pad can help reduce some of the swelling in the arms. This however is often a temporary solution that will require daily maintenance.

Massage Therapy

A trained physical therapist can help you with massage techniques such as drainage massage which address fluid build-up. This type of manual therapy can be effective for multiple pregnancy-related complaints.

Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Swelling

It’s generally a good idea during pregnancy to avoid things that can cause swelling and fluid retention. This practice can also help relieve Carpal Tunnel Syndrome symptoms. Eating a diet of reduced-salt foods is a good first step. Also, spend some time each day with your legs elevated and consult your healthcare provider about adding compression garments to your routine.

Avoiding Repetitive Activities

Although Carpal Tunnel Syndrome during pregnancy isn’t necessarily caused by repetitive stress, it doesn’t hurt to avoid movements that will exacerbate the condition. These include computer use, texting and scrolling motions on phones and activities like knitting or sewing.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Post-Pregnancy Outlook

Pregnancy-related Carpal Tunnel Syndrome usually subsides on its own in the months after giving birth. However this can be a slow and gradual process, which can interfere with breastfeeding and other parts of childcare. In some cases it can take more than a year for the condition to resolve on its own. That’s why it’s important to seek out therapy to help diminish some of the symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Our team of experts help people of all ages enjoy relief from the symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Reach out to our experienced team of chiropractors, physical therapists and acupuncturists so you can enjoy being a new mom without the added stress and discomfort of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome getting between you and your new baby. Visit one of our convenient North Jersey locations in Oakland, Wayne, Fair Lawn, and Closter.