Understanding hand and wrist problems in pregnant women

Pregnancy brings physical and hormonal changes that can cause a variety of unpleasant symptoms. Most people are accustomed to uncomfortable and sometimes painful symptoms such as morning sickness, back pain, and swollen legs. However, wrist and hand problems during pregnancy are often unrecognized or untreated. Interestingly, one-third to one-half of her pregnant women complain of wrist and hand problems. These include carpal tunnel syndrome, thumb tendonitis, trigger finger, and non-specific wrist and hand pain. These conditions commonly occur during the second or third trimester of pregnancy. It is seen and often resolves after childbirth.symptoms

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: This condition is caused by compression of a nerve called the median nerve in the wrist. Pregnancy results in weight gain and water retention. Swollen tissue in the wrist joint presses on nerves, causing numbness, pins and needles, wrist pain, and decreased grip strength along the thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers. Symptoms worsen at night and may awaken from sleep. Treatment usually begins with immobilizing the wrist and avoiding activities that make symptoms worse. If symptoms persist or worsen, topical steroid injections may be required. Surgery to release compressed nerves is rarely needed.

Thumb tendonitis: During pregnancy, tissue swelling from water retention can affect the covering of tendons (the tissue that attaches muscle to bone). As a result, the tendon cannot glide smoothly during movement and becomes inflamed. Commonly, the thumb tendons are affected as they cross the wrist joint, causing pain and tenderness near the thumb and base of the wrist. Wrist movements may become painful, and it may be difficult to lift or hold objects with the thumb. Application of ice, rest, thumb splints, and avoidance of repetitive hand or wrist movements are the first lines of treatment. A topical steroid jab to the affected area may be required for uncontrolled symptoms. Rarely, surgery may be needed when other treatments have failed.

Trigger finger: Fluid retention also affects some of the pulleys that support the tendons in the hand, causing a locking sensation in the fingers when trying to bend or extend them. Rest, splints, and exercise are usually effective in managing symptoms. However, in rare cases, local steroid injections or minor surgery may be required.

Apart from the above conditions, pregnant women may also complain of non-specific wrist and hand pain due to ligament laxity (greater than normal joint range of motion) or fluid retention due to pregnancy.

In summary, wrist and hand disorders are common in pregnant women and often affect their quality of life. But the good news is that they are self-limiting and usually resolve after birth. Inappropriate hand posture during pregnancy can lead to persistent symptoms. can be managed well.

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The above views are those of the author.

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