Pregnancy Related Carpal Tunnel relief?
October 20, 2008 1:06 PM   Subscribe

I have been diagnosed with pregnancy-related carpal syndrome in both wrists. I also have recurring tendonitis in my left wrist (i'm left handed for what it's worth). I had some custom splints made at the doctors but they aren't helping. The midwife and obgyn both refuse to treat it because of the pregnancy. I'm not even allowed to take anti-inflammatories (i'm 8 months pregnant). But i'm in pain and my wrists are swollen. I have been taking vitamin b in addition to prenatals but it isnt helping. Any suggestions to keep the pain at bearable levels? I'm really miserable here. Thanks.
posted by ramix to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Is it an option not to work? Or, not do whatever it is that's stressing your wrists?
posted by Netzapper at 1:19 PM on October 20, 2008

When my arms and wrists start acting up from RSI, I find that I can ease the pain by being very conscious of how I hold my forearms and hands at all times - palms facing in or up, rather than down, and don't rest my hands or wrists when I type. I also find that heat makes it hurt less, though I've heard some people have more success with cold. Finally, are there any activities that aggravate your pain that you can limit or eliminate? For instance, use a book holder instead of holding a book up to read, try not to type any more than necessary, get somebody else to scramble the eggs, etc. Good luck - I know how that pain can drive a person crazy!
posted by vytae at 1:22 PM on October 20, 2008

I find low heat helps my hand and wrist. Heating pad on lowest setting wrapped around.
posted by bjgeiger at 1:28 PM on October 20, 2008

I empathize with you. I had it for the last 8 weeks or so of my pregnancy too. Trying to find things in my purse when I had no feeling in my fingers was always fun. That sucks that the splints don't work. Have you tried Tylenol? I know it's not an anti-inflammatory, but maybe it'd help with the pain?
posted by pyjammy at 1:31 PM on October 20, 2008

i don't know anything about pregnancies or interactions with babies, but could you try some capsacin cream or some biofreeze? capsacin used to be a godsend when my wrists were really bad. are you wearing the splints all the time (except when bathing etc)? you should be. no anti-inflammatories sucks, and i don't see why, since you're so far along, but again, i don't know nuthin' bout no babies.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 1:38 PM on October 20, 2008

I second using heat...also I support my elbows or forearms with small pillows, books, etc, while on the computer, or reading, etc. I also found several places online, including here where cortisone shots are suggested for pregnant women who have tried remedies you have already tried without success. With the discomfort you are experiencing, you might want to look into that.
posted by mumstheword at 1:40 PM on October 20, 2008

I noticed that I had carpal tunnel issues especially badly during the last trimesters of my pregnancies, especially upon waking up. I would sleep with my wrists bent at an odd angle and had basically no feeling in my fingers for a good while after I woke up. Have you tried wearing your spints at night, and did it help?
posted by Addlepated at 1:41 PM on October 20, 2008

I've had a lot of success using practitioners of soft tissue manipulation techniques (active release, myfacial release, trigger point, etc) to reduce the RSI/carpel tunnel like symptoms I have in my wrists and forearms from too much computer use.

find a provider
posted by zentrification at 1:42 PM on October 20, 2008

Anti inflammatories are not recommended during the last weeks of pregnancy because they can have a blood thinning effect. I feel for you, I had just a slight case in one wrist during my last pregnancy and it was miserable. nthing trying heat and just remember, it sucks to have to suffer with the pain but not taking pain killers is what is best for your baby right now. You are putting him first and being a great Mom!! Best of luck...
posted by pearlybob at 1:44 PM on October 20, 2008


Have you talked to either of your health professionals about taking body (not liver)-based fish oil supplements? They're a pretty effective anti-inflammatory, and may make a difference to you -- plus, they're Omega-3-packed, which is also super good for you and your baby, according to some studies. I know they've been helpful with my wrists (RSI) since I started taking them a few months ago. YMMV -- for sure talk to a doc before considering them.
posted by liquado at 1:49 PM on October 20, 2008

Response by poster: Follow-up:
- I'm not working. The pain is just constant no matter what I do.
- I've tried heat, cold and both heat and cold concurrently, and it doesn't help. My wrists are so sore i can barely move my fingers. I'm typing with one finger, and when my wrists aren't hurting, my fingers are numb!!
- I was told to wear the splints only at night, that didn't help, then the physical therapist said to wear it all day, and it still doesn't help.
- I asked my obgyn, midwife AND primary care physician about cortisone shots and they all refused to approve it because of the baby.
- Tylenol sure doesn't help either - which is all they recommend!
- I've tried massage but it just inflames the wrists even more.
- It's taken me 20 minutes to type this out!!
Thanks for all the answers so far - please keep them coming!

on preview: I'm also taking expecta (a fish oil based omega 3h capsule daily)
posted by ramix at 2:02 PM on October 20, 2008

My wrists are so sore i can barely move my fingers. I'm typing with one finger

STOP. Get out of here. I promise to keep the internet running while you're gone. See you after the baby is born.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:12 PM on October 20, 2008 [4 favorites]

Yoga and massage with gentle chiropractic and acupuncture were the only things that kept debilitating carpal tunnel at bay. There are definitely things you can do with sympathetic practitioners. I urge you to explore them.
posted by micawber at 2:15 PM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Are you wearing the splints at night? I sprained my wrist while pregnant and wearing the splints all night was the only way to keep from continuously reinjuring myself. Not exactly the same as carpal tunnel, but the principle may be the same.

Oh, and another reason NSAIDs need to be avoided during pregnancy is that when they inhibit the prostaglandins (body's chemical messengers) that cause pain, they also inhibit the prostaglandins that help induce strong contractions. So really, it is for the best to completely avoid them.
posted by selfmedicating at 2:52 PM on October 20, 2008

I had the same thing, I was afraid I was going to have it forever... it was so bad I couldnt move my fingers and just cried in the hospital because Could barely hold my baby.
All I can say is if it seems like it isn't going away - it did for me after about 10 months... slowy got a little better and better.
posted by beccaj at 3:20 PM on October 20, 2008

There's this topical cream called traumeal or traumeel (not sure on the spelling) it might be worth looking into. My friend gave it to me when I had some wrist pain. Don't know anything about interactions with pregnancy, but it's topical. Hope that helps, sorry about the pain.
posted by thankyouforyourconsideration at 3:55 PM on October 20, 2008

Oh ramix, I feel for you. I had the same thing for the last two months of my pregnancy, and it gradually faded away after my son was born. I couldn't find any relief either. I couldn't grip or grasp or squeeze anything- couldn't walk the dog because I couldn't hold the leash, couldn't trim my own fingernails because I couldn't squeeze the clippers. I could barely hang on to the steering wheel of the car.

I wound up just avoiding doing things that required using my hands. I decided it was a signal that I needed to just take things extremely easy for those last few weeks. I treated myself to things that felt good- pedicures, for example (but not a manicure, I couldn't tolerate anyone else handling my hands like that.) Bubble baths. I got a headset and chatted with people on the phone. I sat on the sofa and watched TV. Listened to audiobooks so I wouldn't have to hold the book in my hands. You get the idea. I'm sorry I don't have a brilliant solution for you other than to say "this too shall pass" and that you have my sympathy. (In my case, the pain went away immediately after birth, and the numbness gradually faded over the next three months.)
posted by ambrosia at 4:15 PM on October 20, 2008

I had this during my pregnancies, and after clearing it with my doctor, I wore gloves similar to these while doing any of the stress-repetitive work that caused me pain, including hand crafts, typing, and as noted above, even reading a book.

Youngest kid is four now and while the issues mostly disappeared a few months after delivery (breastfeeding can keep your body releasing the hormones that cause your joints so much grief for a while longer after giving birth), I still use them when I've really got to finish knitting the damn sock or meet the deadline for an article.
posted by padraigin at 9:04 PM on October 20, 2008

Tramueel, mentioned above, is a homeopathic cream so it may be safer than anything you'd find in a drugstore. You can find it in health food stores. It was shockingly effective in calming a pulled muscle I had last month.

Aside of that, acupuncture and massage to loosen the muscles in general will help with tension/pain/numbness in hands/arms/wrists. I get this a lot and acupuncture is how I handle it. PM me if you would like more information on it.
posted by 8dot3 at 6:25 AM on October 21, 2008

Try sleeping with your hands on pillows. Sometimes it has been the only thing to give me relief, when even the lightest touch could leave me in agony.

I sleep on my side, so when my wrists are bad, I sleep with a pillow between my hands, ie. arms in front of me, palms together (as though praying), and a pillow inbetween. Helps keep you from bending your wrists up in your sleep, and gives a nice soft place for them to rest.

And find a really good massage therapist.
posted by girlgeeknz at 3:02 AM on October 22, 2008

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