Carpal tunnel syndrome

■ 2nd, 3rd trimesters Carpal tunnel syndrome is most often caused by repetitive movements of the hand and wrist, such as typing. You may be surprised to learn that it's also common in pregnant women. That's because hormonal changes, swelling and weight gain can compress the nerve beneath the carpal tunnel ligament in your wrist.

Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include numbness, tingling, weakness, pain or a burning sensation in the hands. In pregnant women carpal tunnel syndrome often occurs in both hands.

The carpal tunnel ligament is a tough membrane that holds the wrist bones together. A nerve called the median nerve enters the hand through the carpal tunnel, a space between the wrist bones and the carpal tunnel ligament. This passageway is rigid, so any swelling in the area can pinch or compress the median nerve, which supplies sensation to the ball of the thumb, the first two fingers and half of the ring finger.

■ Self-care for carpal tunnel syndrome

You may be able to relieve the discomfort by rubbing or shaking your

hands. The first line of treatment is to wear a wrist splint at night and during activities that make the symptoms worse, such as typing, driving a car or holding a book. Applying cold compresses or heat to your wrists may help.

■ Medical care for carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome almost always disappears after delivery. In the rare cases when it doesn't, or when the effects are severe, you may be given steroid injections. Sometimes, minor surgery is needed to correct the problem.

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