Unexpected postpartum pain: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome & Electrotherapy

As I mentioned previously, I self diagnosed myself as having carpal tunnel syndrome. And guess what? I was told by my physical therapist yesterday that I do. Yay(?)

Symptoms usually start gradually, with frequent burning, tingling, or itching numbness in the palm of the hand and the fingers, especially the thumb and the index and middle fingers. Some carpal tunnel sufferers say their fingers feel useless and swollen, even though little or no swelling is apparent. (NINDS)

My physical therapist asked me if I was thin pre-pregnancy. I told her I had gained over 40 pounds and she nodded her head to confirm her suspicion. She said if I went from thin to gaining a significant amount of weight during the pregnancy, it could be the sole reason to my suffering. With all this sudden weight gain, pregnancy hormones and water retention, it was the perfect storm for my condition.

Carpal tunnel syndrome can sometimes appear during pregnancy or postpartum. Carpal tunnel syndrome associated with pregnancy is thought to be related to inflammation and edema of the median nerve as it passes through the wrist. It can take a few weeks to a few months after delivery for the symptoms to resolve but it usually clears up completely (kellymom).

I told her I did suffer from stiff and achy joints in the last month of my pregnancy. But I had just chocked it up to a temporary side effect from being 9 months pregnant. NOPE. It carried over postpartum and has been flaring like no other. I finally went to see a doctor and I’m so glad I did!

I had my second session today (thank goodness for my top notch insurance!) and I was surprised at where my pain was radiating from. I had no idea that the pain traveled all the way to my back, shoulders and neck! There were knots in my neck that KILLED today. The pain from my therapy session was unexpected but felt so goooooood.

I also received electrotherapy on both my hands. It was my first time receiving electrotherapy and I don’t know what I was expecting but it was surprisingly soothing. When I first think of electrotherapy, I think of the movie “A Beautiful Mind” and electroshock therapy. Don’t you?! But it wasn’t anything like what I imagined. It was soothing with a few pricks of “needle” like pain but nothing out of my comfort zone.

Electrotherapy is a type of transcutaneous (goes through the skin) nerve and muscle stimulation by electrical current.  Improvement is often noted after the first session – as evidenced by reduced pain, diminished swelling, and improved mobility.  Electrotherapy treatment is often given as an adjunctive modality for a variety of conditions…It works so safely and comfortably that usually patients feel only mild “pins and needles” tingling, and a gentle sensation of pressure (balanceinlife).

Thank goodness this condition is not permanent! And thank goodness for my insurance that’s going to cover 6 to 12 sessions with no out- of-pocket fees!

I haven’t read any stories on this topic online, so thought I would share my experience. I hope this post helps any other new moms out there that’s suffering from the same condition. Don’t attempt to just deal with it on your own or hope that it will eventually fade. Help is out there!

Happy Friday and have a safe Labor day weekend! 🙂

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