The carpal tunnel is a small tunnel the bones of the wrist create by their shape through which the tendons, blood vessels and nerves to the hand sit as they go into the hand.  It exists to protect these structures, how with excessive activity of the wrist and any kind of swelling is the wrist, that can occur during pregnancy, can reduce the space in the tunnel, putting direct pressure on the nerves and blood vessels of the hand.  Because the tunnel is made of bone at the bottom and a thick layer of connective tissue called the flexor retinaculum on the top,  even  a small degree of the swelling can compromise this space, compressing the nerve.

Once it occurs, causing pins and needles in the thumb and next 2 and 1/2 fingers, treating with exercise usually doesn’t change the procedure.  Treatment requires cutting the thick connective tissue on the front of the wrist, called the flexor retinaculum, to relieve pressure on the nerve.

Exercise can not change the symptoms much when it has occurred and surgery is needed, however, you can always strengthen the muscles of the shoulder, elbow and wrist to reduce the pressure on the wrist in the hope of preventing this injury.

For more information or questions about this article, please email: michael.dermansky@mdhealth.com.au.

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