End of the tunnel

The late pregnancy symptoms that I would have probably avoided if I’d given birth a couple of weeks ago continue to sprout up. As if the recent appearance of stretch marks wasn’t demoralising enough, I have lately been experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) in my fingers.

A week or so ago, I started waking up with one or two sore finger joints. I took it to mean I’d been sleeping on my hand or something and didn’t think much of it. However, the soreness has gradually increased in intensity and now includes both hands and all my finger joints. The worst is when they click when moved – it feels like I’ve got broken fingers, and along with the swelling from the heat my hands are becoming a real problem area!

CTS happens when a narrow passage in your wrist (the “carpal tunnel”) becomes compressed and the nerves are affected. It appears to be just one of those things, which often accompanies arthritis and wrist injuries. I first came across it last year when one of my colleagues started wearing a wrist brace at work: she had developed CTS from repetitive use of her mouse. The brace works to keep the tunnel open and non-compressed. And of course, it is characteristic of pregnancy! The NHS says that up to 50% of pregnant women experience this symptom. The link with pregnancy is possibly something to to with hormone-related fluid retention compressing the tunnel and pressurising the nerves.

CTS

CTS is worst at night and Babycentre suggests shifting your sleeping position can help relieve the discomfort. Easier said than done – it takes me ages to roll over the 8-ton basketball I used to call my belly! Other advice includes shaking your hands, flexing your fingers and wrist, and avoiding repetitive hand movements (such as typing… oh). You can also look into Vitamin B6, chiropractic treatment, yoga, acupuncture and ultrasound therapy, whatever that is. I’ve also found another treatment that seems to help: immersing my hands in a tub of iced water. I don’t think CTS is heat-related but in the current weather it makes my hands feel better all round!

Otherwise I’m just going to try and hang in there – the end is in sight now, and most pregnant women suffering from CTS find that their symptoms diminish after birth and then disappear altogether within three months. If CTS continues after that time, you’ll need some form of treatment (an injection or wrist splint, or for really serious cases, surgery).

Hopefully our baby will come soon – I dread to think what other symptoms are lurking around the corner ready to pounce at the last minute!

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