How to reduce/alleviate swelling during pregnancy
April 24, 2015 7:44 AM   Subscribe

Pregnancy and swelling: Compression sleeves and other methods to reduce discomfort?

I am 21 weeks pregnant with my first child. I have been really lucky so far insomuch as I have had very few symptoms. However, one of the symptoms I have had is what my OB calls “pregnancy carpal tunnel”. Over the last 4-5 weeks, the thumb, index and middle fingers of my right hand have alternated between numb and “pins and needles” feeling, neither of which I ever experienced prior to being pregnant. I also have substantial water retention (full shoe size+ increase, so far). I am told that this will subside once I give birth but definitely have days where I worry that this is not the case (especially when I struggle to even open a bottle of water)!

So far, I have been prescribed dual wrist braces for when I sleep (while my left hand doesn’t give me problems during the day, but when I wake up in the morning, it takes nearly 30 minutes to be able to close both my hands), have gone for lymphatic drainage massages, and been drinking copious amounts of water to try and ease the swelling. My massage therapist has suggested that a compression sleeve/gauntlet may further reduce discomfort. Given that I still have a little over 4 months to go, and three of those months will likely be hot and humid, I am curious to know if anyone else has found a compression sleeve/gauntlet to be helpful in this scenario, and/or can recommend other ways to reduce the discomfort?

(while I realize that the end result will be more than worth the unpleasantries I am going through right now, I am employed in a job where typing/mousing is necessary, so I am trying to find a balance in order to function a little better over the next few months)
posted by meowf to Health & Fitness (7 answers total)
Best answer: Several of our friends coped with this in recent pregnancies, one requiring a few cortisone shots. One believed she got some relief from introducing tumeric (as a food additive when possible, some supplement capsules otherwise) to her diet.
posted by phearlez at 8:45 AM on April 24, 2015

Best answer: Man, I had pregnancy-swelling-induced carpal tunnel too and it sucked so bad. Luckily (?) for me, it only got really terrible in the last few weeks; I got a compression sleeve but ended up not having to use it. What was worse for me was the ankle/lower leg swelling, which my doctor recommended rock tape/fitness tape for. The results weren't miraculous, there's a learning curve and it can be tricky to apply, but it might be worth a shot? Depending on how hirsute you are, you may need to do some shaving or depilating in order to make this an option.
posted by trunk muffins at 9:45 AM on April 24, 2015

Sometimes wearing support hose helps,they have them for pregnant women. Look up a reliable list of foods high in salt and see if you have changed your diet since you became pregnant. Maybe lowering the intake of the notorious offenders will help some. See a registered Dietitian.
posted by Oyéah at 10:55 AM on April 24, 2015

Best answer: Go swimming if you can. The water exerts all over pressure on your body and it helps immensely with swelling and fluid retention. Plus it just feels lovely to be weightless, especially when you get big. If you can't swim, then soak in the tub or something.

Also eat cucumbers and watermelon. They are mild diuretics.

As for the carpal tunnel stuff, I had that too, in my second pregnancy. Sleeping with my top hand/forearm propped onto a pillow, kind of hugging it, helped a lot.
posted by fancyoats at 4:33 PM on April 24, 2015

I wore compression socks during my last pregnancy and they helped a fair bit. I just got off the shelf ones from Amazon, and they were good enough, though excessive googling suggested they were really supposed to be fitted by someone.
posted by telepanda at 6:16 PM on April 24, 2015

Response by poster: These are really great suggestions, guys, thanks SO much for taking the time. Given that my understanding of carpal tunnel is that the nerves are being compressed in the first place, I was a little worried, too, that compression .. wear, would have the potential to cause more issues. But I am going to give them a try. (and look into the tape option, as I am worried about leg swelling over the next few months as well) I am definitely open to giving everything and anything a try. It's curious to read about the cortisone shots, thanks, Phearlez, I may ask my OB next month if I am still struggling, and will definitely look into adding more turmeric into my cooking. I have really been watching my salt intake, and adding more potassium to my diet as well (which really has mixed reviews, but it's worth a shot, right), and I love cucumber so I will try that as well. I also absolutely love swimming, and hooked myself up with a 4 month membership near my work so I could go anytime. I do find that at least while I am in the water, it helps immensely.

Thanks again for such great ideas.
posted by meowf at 4:01 AM on April 25, 2015

Response by poster: Update: So around the end of May, after trying a cortisone injection which did not provide much relief at all, I went in for carpal tunnel release surgery. It was actually less painful than the cortisone injection and I have feeling in my right hand again. I am 16 days post op and while I have a little bit of thumb pain, the relief was worth it. The advice in this post has been very helpful in general and I wanted to say thanks again to those who weighed in on it.
posted by meowf at 5:16 AM on June 11, 2015

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