Epilepsy & Neurologic Disorders

Expert reports about Epilepsy & Neurologic Disorders


INFORMATION FOR  WOMEN WHO HAVE CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME DURING PREGNANCY OR BREASTFEEDING

                                                                                                                                                

What is carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy?

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a condition featuring pain, numbness, and/or tingling, in the hand and often the forearm, due to compression of the median nerve, where it passes through the “carpal tunnel,” a passageway through the carpal bones. CTS can be unilateral (affecting one hand), or bilateral (affecting both hands). Consisting of the scaphoid, lunate, triquetrum, pisiform, trapezium, trapezoid, capitate, and hamate bones, the carpal bones are located at the base of the hand, where the hand connects with the forearm bones (ulna and radius), forming the wrist joint. There is limited space in the carpal tunnel, so compression of the median nerve can happen, either if the carpal tunnel narrows or if the median nerve and other contents of the carpal tunnel enlarge. This can be a vicious cycle, because mechanical irritation of the contents of the tunnel can stimulate inflammation, causing swelling, which puts increased pressure on the contents of the tunnel, including the median nerve. Since the median nerve supplies the thumb (finger 1), plus the second, third, and part of the fourth finger, often people with CTS feel symptoms involving most of the hand and all fingers, except for the little finger (pinky), though it’s possible to feel symptoms in all five fingers, since pain and discomfort tends to spread out. CTS has a strong association with activities involving repetitive hand movements such as typing. There also is a very strong association between CTS and the third trimester of pregnancy, possibly because of hormonal changes, fluid accumulation (swelling) throughout the body, fluctuations in blood sugar levels, and increased sensitivity of nerves. When you develop CTS during pregnancy, sometimes it is called pregnancy-related CTS (PRCTS).


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