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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Symptoms: 

Pain in the wrist, thumb and index or middle finger may worsen when you move your hand or if the weather is hot, it’s also more likely to occur at night.   

Numbness: especially in the thumb, index finger or middle finger. If severe, it  can result in difficulty holding on to or picking things up, and feeling clumsy.

Tingling: especially in the thumb, index finger or middle finger. Tingling may worsen when you move your hand or if the weather is particularly hot. It’s also more likely to occur at night.

Weakness: stress on the nerve in the carpal tunnel can cause weakness in the thumb, index finger or palm of your hand and loss of grip strength and dexterity. 

Symptoms can be unilateral or bilateral and impairment and dysfunction can range from mild to severe.   Symptoms are most pronounced after a period of rest or after a period of repetitive hand motions like typing.

    

Why it happens: 

Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by anything that compresses the median nerve which runs from the forearm into the palm and the tendons in the carpal tunnel. In pregnancy, this is primarily attributed to increased body fluid volume causing compression of the median nerve.   Carpal Tunnel Syndrome symptoms are common during sleep  when the wrist may be in a flexed position and can wake women contributing to disordered sleep and fatigue.   

Relief Measures: 

Goal is to improve discomforts and prevent disordered sleep, fatigue and permanent disability from severe cases.   Treatment for most women during pregnancy is conservative as this condition often improves dramatically within the first two weeks postpartum when the body is losing excessive pregnancy fluid.  Symptoms may persist for up to a year in more than 50% of women. 

  1. Hand splint in neutral position worn at night and / or during the day as needed. 

  2. Avoidance of extreme flexion or extension of the wrist.

  3. Avoid activities that strain your wrist like repetitive hand and wrist motions & use of vibrating tools like lawn mowers. .

  4. Massage and gentle stretching of the fingers and wrist.

  5. Elevate your hands when you’re resting or not using them.

  6. Apply ice pack on your inner wrist or place your hand in cold water for 30 seconds to 2 minutes to help reduce the swelling.   If your symptoms worsen, do not repeat.

  7. Use a wrist brace or a splint to keep your wrists in a neutral position (not bent forwards or backwards) and to reduce strain during the day, and while you’re sleeping.

  8. A physiotherapist, occupational therapist or chiropractor can adjust splints to your specific wrist in order to be protective and supportive.  Your therapist will be able to tell you how best to protect your wrist at home, including exercises and resting positions.

  9. Maintain good posture in your arms and wrists while working at a desk

  10. Take breaks every 20 minutes while working at a desk.

  11. Avoid foods that trigger inflammation in the body like:

    1.  high fructose corn syrup, 

    2. soy, 

    3. processed vegetable oils (trans fats), 

    4. other chemical additives that trigger inflammation in the body.  

  12. Consume foods that reduce inflammation in the body: 

    1. Omega 3 fats.  These are the fat’s that come from fish oil such as wild caught salmon.

    2. Leafy green vegetables like kale, spinach, chard and collard greens. 

    3. Blueberries. 

    4. Matcha and Tulsi tea. 

    5. Fermented foods such as kefir, kimchee, miso, tempeh, pickles, sauerkraut and olives. 

    6. Shitake mushrooms. 

    7. Garlic. 

    8. Very powerful spices that have strong anti-inflammatory properties:  Cloves, Cinnamon, Jamaican allspice, Apple pie spice, Oregano, Pumpkin pie spice mixture, Marjoram, Sage, Thyme, Gourmet Italian spice, Curcumin and Turmeric.  

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