Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"Handing" out Information on CTS

I think one of the biggest misconceptions about pregnancy is pregnancy itself. You hear the horror stories from pregnant people about the aches and pains and exhaustion and morning sickness but you tend to brush it off because you want the end result so badly you can taste it.

I think we tend to rationalize in our minds that people are drama queens and things are not really as bad as they make them out to be. Then we get hit with one of those rare occurrences that you don’t hear so much about (or maybe not so rare but not as prevalently talked about). Is it the end of the world? No, of course not but it damn sure can effect your life, moods, outlook etc.

Pregnancy Carpal Tunnel. Not something you expect to get, think about getting, prepare for getting and it can seriously “cramp” your life. My pregnancy has been rather mild. It was traumatic in the beginning with the unsurity of it. There were a few weeks of some good bouts of Morning sickness but other than that and some typical exhaustion, it has not been too bad. I’ve watched my weight (slowly climb that is), tried to eat healthy and had this false idea that if I could just keep my weight down I could avoid some of the discomforts many people experience. (I’m so delusional). Then my body lost control of itself and that idea went out the window this past weekend with my sanity.

You don’t realize how much you use your hands until you can’t. When your wrists ache and your hands start going numb and swelling it seriously affects your quality of living. I can’t walk for long periods without this happening. I lasted 6 minutes on the treadmill last night before they got to the point of numbness they actually felt like they were dipped in hot water.

My desk job, which everyone assumes to be so easy during pregnancy? I grit my teeth and cry through part of it because the pain in my wrists is so bad. Flipping through stacks of paper to organize chronologically (flip, pull, insert, twist, flip) is excruciating. I can barely get the cap off my water bottle and forget about opening jars while cooking.

Last night, just so I could try and sleep, my husband had to massage my hands. This morning, before I could get out of bed, he had to rub the right one and physically open it as it was balled in a clawed fist with stabbing pain and numbness and I couldn’t seem to open it myself.

Sitting here typing is giving me tingly warm sensations through my fingers so I can foresee if this keeps up and/or gets worse as predicted, I will be forced into a blogging/internet break. So again, my one outlet will be taken away from me. Just another part of me being lost to myself.

Is the sacrifice worth it? Of course it is but I’m not going to lie. It’s damn sure hard to get through the day to day of it all happily through the pain and it is definitely taking a hand in my mental state.

So here’s what you need to know about Carpal Tunnel during pregnancy:
• Tingling or numbness in part of the hand (thumb, index, middle or ring fingers)
• Sharp pains that shoot from the wrist up the arm
• Burning Sensations in the fingers
• Morning stiffness or cramping of hands
• Thumb weakness
• Frequently dropping objects
• Waking at night with hand pain and numbness
• Numbness in hand while driving

(Yea, I actually have ALL THAT...nice huh?)

Carpal Tunnel during pregnancy affects 28% of pregnant women but mostly in the age range of 29-62yo. (They need to check those figures. I know it’s been done with modern science but seriously how many fucking pregnant 62 year olds are there?)

What CTS is: The median nerve, traveling through the “tunnel” of the wrist bones, is compressed by the flexor tendons. The nerve responds by sending pain signals and not carrying normal sensory information. It is usually brought on by water retention. (Hmmm maybe this is why I gained 6 pounds in one weekend.)

Treatment Suggestions:
• Reduce Salt intake to aid in the water retention issues.
• Practice Yoga (yea...I’m having a hard time considering this one since that’s going to HURT)
• Wrists braces
• Try not to do repetitive wrist motion that will aggravate it
• B6 supplements (though clinical studies have shown that this really isn’t significantly effective)
• Massage
• Regular breaks and position changes
• In more serious cases: cortisone shots in the wrist (I’ll be avoiding that particular one unless absolutely necessary)
• In Extreme Cases if the symptoms to not improve after pregnancy there is a simple outpatient surgery (but this is an extreme rarity for pregnancy induced CTS).

Sources: www.pregnancytoday.com ; www.babycenter.com ; www.ehow.com .

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