Your back hurts. Your feet are swollen (and they hurt, too). You have to empty your bladder more times than you can count. You fully expected all these things to happen during pregnancy, right? Did you ever expect that you could be susceptible to\u00a0carpal tunnel, too?\nBut now your hands are numb. Your fingers tingle. You can barely grip a coffee mug. What\u2019s going on?\nAccording to orthopaedic surgeon John R. Fowler, MD, you could be suffering from pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel syndrome.\n\u201cExpectant moms are susceptible to this condition, as there is generalized swelling in pregnancy,\u201d he says.\nThis common problem affects the wrist and hand when too much pressure is put on the median nerve. The median nerve is what gives feeling to your thumb, index, and middle fingers. It\u2019s also responsible for the muscle movement at the base of your thumb.\nRELATED:\u00a0What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?\nWhat Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?\n\u201cThe median nerve runs through a narrow passage, or tunnel, in your wrist to your hand and fingers,\u201d explains Dr. Fowler. \u201cThe fluid retention and swelling that happens during pregnancy can cause the nerve to be pinched in this tight space. This compression is what causes symptoms.\u201d\nCarpal Tunnel Syndrome Symptoms\nPain, numbness, tingling, and swelling in the hand and fingers are all common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.\nDr. Fowler notes other problems you may notice include:\n\nFeeling clumsy, or dropping items more frequently\nLoss of strength, or feeling too weak to grasp items\nFinding it difficult to perform fine motor tasks like clasping a necklace or buttoning clothes\n\nRELATED:\u00a0Have a Safe Pregnancy by Looking After Your Health\nPain Relief for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome\nDr. Fowler suggests easing up on the activities that aggravate your hands the most.\n\u201cYou should avoid activities that force your wrists into a flexed or bent-back position, like typing or holding onto handles of gym equipment.\u201d\nCarpal tunnel symptoms can often feel the worst at night or right after you wake up.\n\u201cI often recommend wearing splints at night to prevent you from bending the palm down toward the wrist,\u201d he says. \u201cBending down, or up, causes restricted blood flow to the nerve. In severe, unrelenting cases, I can perform an ultrasound-guided injection of corticosteroids into the carpal tunnel. This provides most patients with relief.\u201d\nAfter Pregnancy\nJust like your feet should return to their normal size and your back aches should disappear, your carpal tunnel syndrome should resolve on its own after delivery. However, symptoms may persist if you are breastfeeding. If they do, Dr. Fowler encourages you to tell your OB\/GYN at your postpartum visit.\n\u201cYou may need to be referred to a hand specialist if your symptoms are constant or severe,\u201d he says. \u201cThere are nonsurgical and surgical treatments available if needed.\u201d\nUPMC\u2019s hand surgeons perform thousands of procedures for more common ailments, and have the experience and equipment to handle and treat difficult and unusual cases. Visit us online or call 412-687-3900.