Pregnancy: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

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Tingling, numbness, and pain in the hands are common during pregnancy, especially in the last trimester. These problems are usually caused by carpal tunnel syndrome. They usually go away after pregnancy.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by pressure on the median nerve in your wrist. This nerve runs through a small space in your wrist called the carpal tunnel. This nerve controls feeling in your thumb and first three fingers. When there is pressure on this nerve, your grip can be weak and your hand can be clumsy. The nerve doesn't control feeling in your little finger.

Anything that reduces the amount of space in the carpal tunnel can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. So can anything that makes the median nerve more sensitive.

The swelling that is common in pregnancy can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. You may be more likely to get carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy if you:

  • Use forceful or repetitive hand and finger movements.
  • Use equipment that vibrates.


If your symptoms are not severe, your doctor will likely recommend nonsurgical treatment. This may include:

  • Changing or avoiding activities that may be causing symptoms.
  • Taking frequent breaks from repetitive tasks.
  • Wearing a wrist splint to keep your wrist straight, usually just at night.
  • Doing exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles in the hand and arm.
  • Learning ways to protect your joints as you go through your daily activities.

Surgery isn't usually done during pregnancy. After childbirth, symptoms often go away without treatment.

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Current as of: July 17, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.