If you recently gave birth and still find yourself dealing with the pain, numbness, and tingling that has marked your pregnancy-related carpal tunnel syndrome, you may be wondering how long it will take to find relief now that you're no longer pregnant. While your hands and wrists will often return to normal within just a few days or weeks as the post-partum hormones begin working their way out of your system, in a small percentage of cases, you may need more extensive follow-up treatment. Read on to learn more about how you can minimize the symptoms of your carpal tunnel syndrome after birth, as well as some of your longer-term treatment options if your symptoms don't begin to subside by the time you visit your obstetrician for a follow-up appointment.
What can you do to manage your carpal tunnel symptoms after birth?
Carpal tunnel during pregnancy is often caused by a "perfect storm" of circumstances -- increased blood volume and fluid retention can place extra pressure on the thin bundles of nerves in your hands and wrists, while the hormones coursing through your body can also cause the surrounding tissues to swell, compressing your nerves even further. Once you've given birth, your hormone levels will slowly return to normal, and you'll quickly eliminate much of the fluid you've been retaining over the last 40 weeks.
Once you've lost much of your fluid weight, the pressure on your hands and wrists should relieve itself noticeably. You can speed this process along by ensuring you drink plenty of water -- although it can seem counterintuitive, the more water you drink, the more quickly your kidneys are able to work to flush out fluids from your tissues. Adding some lemon or lime to your water can increase its detoxifying effect while giving you some improvement in taste.
Severe carpal tunnel that causes you significant pain can sometime be treated with cortisone injections into the affected joints. While this isn't a permanent solution, it can provide you with pain relief for weeks without crossing the breast milk barrier, ideal for mothers who are worried about taking so much as an ibuprofen for fear of its effect on breast milk quality. By the time your initial post-partum cortisone injection has worn off, you should be far enough past the childbirth process to be able to tell whether your carpal tunnel will resolve itself or whether outside intervention may be necessary.
What are your treatment options if your carpal tunnel hasn't relieved itself by the time you have your follow-up OBGYN appointment?
Six to eight weeks after your child is born, you'll likely return to your obstetrician for a follow-up appointment to determine whether you're healing well from birth. At this appointment, you'll be given the opportunity to ask questions about anything that's still bothering you, including your carpal tunnel symptoms. If you're still dealing with intense pain or numbness that makes going about the motions of daily life difficult, surgical "release" of the carpal tunnel nerves may be your best option.
This procedure is relatively simple, and involves cutting into the scar tissue or other excess tissue that binds the nerves in your hands and wrists together. By relieving the outside pressure on these nerves, you'll be able to move freely again -- and in many cases, a single surgery on each affected hand is all you'll need to obtain permanent relief from your carpal tunnel. (For those who have been pregnant more than once and whose carpal tunnel has worsened with each pregnancy, putting off this surgery until you're sure you're done with kids may be the most effective choice.)
For more information, visit a site like http://www.towncenterorthopaedics.com.