Nine Months of Aches & Pains: Treating Carpal Tunnel & Thoracic Outlet Syndrome in Pregnancy

Being pregnant is such a very special time, but if we’re being completely honest about it, for some, it can be nine months of aches and pains. Not just back ache and swollen feet but other conditions such as carpal tunnel (CTS) and thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) can be present during that blissful nine months.

Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) sounds scary, doesn’t it? But it’s basically pain in your shoulders and neck and numbness in your fingers when blood vessels or nerves in the space between your collarbone and your first rib become squished or irritated. It’s caused by repetitive strain injuries, maybe trauma from a car accident, or old sporting injuries, but pregnancy can be a main accelerator of the condition due to your joints and ligaments loosening in preparation for childbirth. Changes in posture and retention of fluids can also play a part. During pregnancy your body undergoes a unique set of changes only prevalent during pregnancy and unlike any other time in our life cycle. As such, new conditions are commonly experienced as well exacerbating previous complaints.

Pain and numbness as well as a tingling sensation but this time felt in your hands and fingers is also common during pregnancy and is likely to be caused by carpel tunnel syndrome (CTS). This is when fluid builds up in your wrists which squeezes the nerves, in particular, the median nerve that runs down to our hands and fingers. You may notice your grip may be weaker or range of motion in your fingers is less. The median nerve also travels across the ribcage and down your arms, meaning if you already suffer with neck and shoulder pain, this may also be irritated during pregnancy. Often worse at night, when we curl our hands during sleep, it can be downright disruptive during our precious pre-baby sleep. Oh yes … insomnia is another condition experienced during those blissful nine months!

On a positive note, I thoroughly recommend the use of complimentary therapies when treating CTS and TOS. Aromatherapy, massage and acupressure can all have a positive impact in the treatment of these painful and sometimes debilitating conditions. Ongoing massage treatments throughout pregnancy do produce the best results. Massage can help alleviate these symptoms or at very least keep them to a minimum by stimulating the body’s own painkiller, Endorphins. Massage helps with drainage where fluid retention occurs, and eases and relaxes the muscles surrounding the affected areas. It aids that precious sleep I mentioned and helps restore a sense of calm and balance to your hormonal and ever-changing body. Other things like gentle exercise, stretching and being mindful of your posture, can help too.

With my experience as a massage therapist, aromatherapist, midwife and mother, I really can’t tell you enough how beneficial complimentary therapies are during pregnancy. If you want to chat through how I could help you, please get in touch.

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