Wrist Pain in Pregnancy

Monday, January 6

So many of my friends are pregnant at the moment, or have just given birth, and so I've had a number of emails and calls recently asking for Physio advice!

I've decided to do a series on here on some of the common pregnancy related aches and pains that I treat in my Physio practice.

So to my lovely regular readers who aren't pregnant, please bear with me, you may want to stop reading now, or maybe just make a mental note to pop back to these posts one day if they do become relevant to you!

A common complaint in the pregnant ladies that I treat, is wrist pain in the third trimester, as a result of nerve compression.  This happens because of the increased fluid retained in the body as your pregnancy progresses, which can be visible in the ankles, feet, hands and face, but can also lead to reduced movement in your joints, and compression on the nerves.

Nerve compression in pregnancy is most common in the wrists, caused by compression of the median nerve, which passes through a narrow sheath called the flexor retinaculum, on the under side of your wrist (so the aspect if your palms are facing upwards).

Ladies usually complain of pain, numbness over their wrist joints and in their hands, and occasionally the loss of strength and struggling to hold objects effectively.  

The pain and numbness is usually worst at night, and disturbs much needed sleep.

The pain can also be most severe in the mornings, and can be very debilitating for pregnant women.

I've treated a number of women where there was no swelling evident in their wrists or hands, but they had severe pain as a result of a build up of a small invisible amount of fluid in the wrist joint.

Treatment Recommendations:

Ice packs over the painful area can be effective in relieving discomfort. Or a packet of frozen peas wrapped in a wet cloth also does the trick.  
Try 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off three times.

Resting with the hands elevated, so that gravity can try and eliminate some of the fluid that has accumulated in the wrists.

If you can get to a Women's Health Physio, they will likely treat you with:

Gentle wrist and hand stretches and exercises.



You may want to try:

Wearing a wrist splint, such as this one, which prevents you from flexing your wrist.

Avoiding positions which place the wrists in position sod stress, such as kneeling on all fours.

The good news is that a research study in 1994, showed that 95% of ladies with carpal tunnel syndrome wrist pain, were completely pain free within two weeks of delivering their babies, once they no longer as much excess fluid in their bodies. 

Have a super day Ladies! 

**As always please do not use the information in this post as a substitute for seeking out your own medical advice!
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