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Carpal tunnel syndrome and De Quervain's tenosynovitis are the two most common causes of hand pain for women who are expecting or have just delivered.

If you have tingling, numb and painful hands during pregnancy, it's likely to be caused by carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). It affects 30-50% of pregnant women.  Symptoms vary and can range from mild to very painful, and may affect one or both hands.

What you may feel with CTS

  • Pins and needles

  • Numbness

  • Pain, may be worse at night

  • Weakness in the hand(s)

  • Burning sensations in the fingers

  • Sharp darting pains from the wrist

  • Radiating pain into the arm and shoulder

De Quervain's tenosynovitis is common in new mothers because of the awkward hand positions used to care for or breastfeed a baby. It occurs when one or both of the tendons that move the thumb become inflamed. The compartment which houses the tendons is just the right size for the tendons, much like driving a car through a tunnel.  De Quervain's can be a vicious cycle, as the inflamed tendon keeps hitting the walls of its compartment so it is best to get assessed by a physiotherapist.

What you may feel with De Quervains tensosynovitis:

  • Pain near the base of your thumb

  • Swelling near the base of your thumb

  • Difficulty moving your thumb and wrist when doing something that involves grasping or pinching

  • A "sticking" or "stop-and-go" sensation in your thumb when moving it

Treatment may consist of:

  • Education on activities to avoid or modify

  • Splinting

  • Hands on treatment to relieve area of pain

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