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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

carpal tunnel what?

A couple of years before i got pregnant, i had this strange sensation on my right hand --numbness, pins and needles or alternately, a dull pain. I never took any noticed of it then since it doesn't happen everyday. I simply ignored it.

However, during pregnancy and after wards, the symptoms persisted and became worst. My right hand appeared to be weak and couldn't hold even my mug of coffee. I routinely woke in the middle of the night and had to stand and sway my arm in all direction to relieved the pain ( when one is fast asleep, we are unaware of the position of our wrist which aggravates the symptoms). At the time, i knew what was causing it---carpal tunnel syndrome.

Carpal tunnel is a small tunnel in your wrist to which tendons that supports movement of your fingers and a nerve, median nerve, which control sensation passes through.When you have this condition, the tunnel shrink or swell and put pressure on the nerve and the tendons causing the symptoms. No one really knows what causes this condition. However, there are factors that can increased the risk of having one --- diabetis, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, any damaged or fracture to your wrist, repetitive motion of the hand and pregnancy.

Treatment varies from conservative to invasive. Massage and cold compress may provide temporary relief. Wearing splint and cortico-steroid injection might do the job. If the symptoms persists and progress, a surgical intervention may be necessary.

I tried splint which afforded relief only at night time as need to take it off when i'm at work. I needed more than just a night relief, i was desperate for day ease as well.

I went for series of test. The only option left for me is surgery. Anything that will make my right hand resumed its function was fine by me.

I had a surgical procedure, carpal tunnel decompression, done under local anesthetic. It involved cutting ligament or opening the roof of the tunnel to make room for the nerve. It isn't a long operation, it normally takes 10-15 minutes. The worst part is when they start turning on the tourniquet to stop blood flowing into my right hand . Other than that, all went well. I had my hand bandaged for 2/3 weeks which i find quite frustrating as i am a right handed person.

note: some people finds this video disturbing. watch at your own risk

this article does not intend to diagnose. it is to share useful information of author's experiences as an operating room nurse/perioperative nurse.

image taken from public domain......www. wristpainavice.co.uk


  1. I had carpal tunnel only when I was pregnant with my first child. It was only at night, and went away as soon as I had him. I have no idea what a baby in my belly had to with my wrist. I had to wear a splint, or I could not sleep at all.

  2. I had the same problem on my right arm last year. Before I call my doctor I checked on line just to see what the symptoms mean, and the signs match the symptoms for Carpal Tunnel.

    I got it from working in my garden when I was cutting roses (repetitive motion of the hand).

    I did cold compress at night for 20 minutes for several weeks. The pain went away. I can still feel the pain sometimes when I lift heavy things.

    If the pain comes back - I will see my doctor.

    I love this entry Eng ! I want to see more stuff like this.

  3. I a had carpal tunnel operation, it worked wonderfully and left no scar. It fixed my pain problem.

  4. this is not something for me to see....can't take it.

  5. that's scary...having it in pregnancy!

  6. Strange, with all the things I do and all the things that have happened to me, I can not watch the video, strange.
    Fortunately i have never developed Carpel Tunnel syndrome, why I do not know, was it years of punching bags in Teo Kwon Do? or was it that I developed my own way of typing ? Or something else strange because many people i know type less than I do (the repetitive motion thing)have developed it and I have not. I understand it can be very debilitating and painful. Dorry you went through that.

  7. have not heard about carpal tunnel before Eng, thanks a lot for this information.

  8. Ouch - finally saw the video !

  9. melissa...
    carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition associated with swelling and weight gain during pregnancy and disappers once the baby is born.

    fortunately, not all pregnant women suffers from it. statistics shows between 20 - 60 percent suffers from it.

    yeah! i remembered that, i thought you are suffering from ulnar nerve entrapment which more or less has the same symptoms. glad its not that bad.

    thanks, i have a few lined up already for varied theme...ha!ha!ha!

    thanks for dropping by, highly appreciated. it's quite a delibitating condition to have. glad your ok now.

    the incion site which is at the crease of the palm decreased the chances of scarring.

    yeah! there are those who can't bear the sight of a needle.it is the main reason i add the beware note...ha!ha!ha! i do not want anyone fainting on the front of their monitor.

    you are so lucky not to have this condition. yes, it is debilitating. to me, this is more painful than going through labor.

    its a daunting thing to watch or see, surgery/operation.its not something one sees everyday.it is only understandable.

    thanks girl, inspite of your very hectic schedule you still managed to drop by. thanks a lot!

    miss yah!

  10. eng, kudos for a very cool, informative post! i am just now recovering from CTS. i suffered from it starting in the 3rd trimester. my hands and wrists ached all day, but the pain intensified at night:( i bought a hand splint for my right hand (which hurt more than the left) but wore it very little during the day because it was too hard to type that way, and it felt too hot and sweaty. wearing the splint at night helped some. i was told the CTS would go away once i had my baby. i thought, cool! just a few more weeks and this will all disappear .. i figured as soon as teyla was born, i would wake up the next day with pain-free hands. well, here i am, 10 weeks later, and my hands/wrists still hurt a wee bit throughout the day, and a bit more once night falls. my handwriting is not as fluid, pretty as it used to be mainly because my hands are still somewhat stiff from the CTS. i can see an improvement though, which gives me hope .. i do not want to go through surgery, if possible. my doctor said if the pain does not go away and CTS continues to bother me, they might have to drain the fluid in my carpal tunnel. i hope it does not come to that. so everyone, pls cross your fingers for me. thanks again, eng, for sharing this educational post.

  11. never heard of carpal tunnel Eng, thanks for sharing...

  12. mj...
    oh! so sorry to hear that you still suffers from CTS. hope it gets better soon.

    hope you wont have to resort for surgery. keep wearing the splint and try the cold compress.

    kiss to teyla and rog.

    you are lucky not to have this condition during pregnanacy girl. it will keep you up most nights because of pain.

    thanks girl!




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