22 weeks. I’ll be 22 weeks on Tuesday and I feel like I’m sleeping as well as I would if I were in the last weeks of my pregnancy. Why? One little nuisance called Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). This is an ailment that some people have to deal with all the time, pregnant or not; I feel for you seriously if you’re living with this 24/7. If you aren’t familiar with CTS, I’ll explain it to you in easy non-medical terms (we’re all parents, right? Sometimes I just don’t want to think more than I have to!):
Everyone has a nerve in their hand that helps control the muscle at the base of your thumb (look at your hand and move your thumb, see it?). The nerve runs through a bony canal or “tunnel” called the carpal tunnel. The extra blood and fluid that your body produces during pregnancy causes pressure on the tunnel and makes it smaller. That makes the nerve that runs through it compressed. The compression causes the pins and needles and numbness feeling in your hand. CTS is most common in people who have occupations that require repetitive movements like typing on a computer or working on an assembly line.
It’s common to be worse at night; which is partly why I’ve been sleeping so terribly. Most CTS symptoms develop in the second trimester but with this pregnancy I noticed it right away. It was one of the signs that made me think I was pregnant. I didn’t have it with my first pregnancy but I definitely did in my second pregnancy. If you’ve had CTS with a pregnancy it’s more likely to happen with subsequent pregnancies.
So what can you do? There are a few things that can help you cope with this annoying pregnancy problem. One of those things is wearing a wrist brace at night. This helps position your hand so that the tunnel the nerve runs through remains opened and not compressed by the water and blood redistributing in your body. Your doctor can help you in choosing the correct wrist brace.
You can also try shaking your hands out periodically during the day. You can hang your hand over the bed at night and shake it out. If you can actually remember to do this in the middle of the night, let me know your trick. It’s hard enough for me to make it to the bathroom in one piece let alone hang my hand over the side of the bed and shake it!
I’m going to give the wrist brace a try. I know it’ll take some getting used to but it’s got to be better than what I have been doing…which is nothing, other than repositioning myself what feels like 100 times a night. Have you experienced pregnancy Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? What helped you relieve the numbness and tingling feeling?