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How can I relieve the numbness in my hands?
Q: I have tingling and numbness in my hands, especially in my thumb and some fingers. Sometimes it wakes me up at night. What can I do to relieve the pain and numbness in my hands during pregnancy?
A: The pain and numbness is likely caused by carpal tunnel syndrome, which can develop during the second half of pregnancy. It’s caused by fluid retention that increases pressure on the median nerve, which runs through your wrist bones, bringing sensation to your thumb, second, third and half of your fourth finger. Swelling and pressure on the nerve accounts for the numbness, tingling, aching and/or pain that characterize this syndrome.

Anything that compresses the space for the median nerve (like flexing your wrist downward) will increase your discomfort. Therefore, try to prop your hands in a neutral position, especially at night when you’re sleeping. You may need to wear a wrist splint or hand brace to maintain a comfortable position. If you wake up with pain, shaking your hands may relieve the pain or numbness. Avoid repetitive motions like typing. If your job requires forceful or repetitive hand movements, you may need to wear a wrist brace and consult an ergonomic specialist.

Though the symptoms of carpal tunnel are bothersome, they usually disappear within a few weeks after delivery. If your symptoms prevent you from sleeping or working, consult your physician. Let your doctor know if you have constant numbness, loss of sensation or muscle weakness in your hands. These symptoms could signal the need for additional treatment.
Laura E. Stachel M.D. Obstetrician & Gynecologist