Pregnancy-induced Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a common, yet often overlooked, condition affecting pregnant people. It manifests as a collection of symptoms due to the compression of the median nerve within the carpal tunnel of the wrist. Symptoms typically include numbness, tingling, pain, or a dull ache in the fingers, hand, or wrist. These sensations may sometimes extend to the forearm and shoulder.
The prevalence of CTS in pregnant people is notable. It is estimated that a significant percentage of pregnant people experience CTS symptoms, particularly during the second and third trimesters. This increase is attributed to physiological changes during pregnancy, such as fluid retention leading to swelling, which can exert pressure on the median nerve.
In the context of pregnancy, CTS differs slightly from the general population. The hormonal changes and increased fluid retention in pregnant people contribute to this swelling in the carpal tunnel and compression of the median nerve. Unlike typical CTS, which might be related to repetitive strain or anatomical abnormalities, pregnancy-induced CTS is often temporary and resolves post-delivery.
Acupuncture offers a unique approach to treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS), especially in pregnant people. Its mechanisms of action are grounded in both neurological and circulatory theories.
Neurological and Circulatory Theories in Acupuncture
From a neurological perspective, acupuncture is thought to stimulate nerve fibers, which then send signals to the brain to release neural hormones like endorphins, known for their pain-relieving properties. This process can help alleviate the discomfort associated with CTS. In terms of circulation, acupuncture is believed to enhance blood flow, reducing swelling and inflammation in the carpal tunnel area, thereby easing pressure on the median nerve.
How Acupuncture Alleviates Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
By strategically placing needles at specific points, acupuncture can target areas affected by CTS. This targeted approach helps in reducing the swelling and numbness, and improving nerve function and hand strength, thus directly addressing the symptoms of CTS.
Key acupuncture points for CTS include “PC6” (Neiguan), located on the inner arm, which is known for its effectiveness in reducing wrist pain and “HT7” (Shenmen), which helps in alleviating anxiety and improving sleep – common issues in CTS sufferers.
Recent studies have shed light on the effectiveness and safety of acupuncture as a treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) in pregnant people.
One significant study, referenced in the National Library of Medicine, demonstrated that acupuncture could effectively reduce the symptoms of CTS. Participants reported significant improvement in pain and functionality of the wrist and hand.
The safety of acupuncture during pregnancy has also been a focal point of research. A systematic review, as seen in Fertility and Sterility, confirms that when performed by a trained practitioner, acupuncture is safe for pregnant women and poses minimal risk of adverse effects.
Practical Considerations and Treatment Protocol
Effectively managing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) in pregnant people through acupuncture involves a tailored approach, considering the unique needs and conditions of pregnancy.
Acupuncture treatment for pregnant people with CTS should be personalized, taking into account the patient’s overall health, pregnancy stage, and severity of CTS symptoms. Certain acupuncture points may be avoided or selected based on these factors to ensure both effectiveness and safety.
Typically, treatment frequency may vary from once to twice a week, depending on the severity of symptoms. Each session might last about 30-45 minutes. The duration of the treatment course can span several weeks, with adjustments based on symptom improvement.
Aftercare and Lifestyle Adjustments to Complement Acupuncture
Post-acupuncture, patients are advised to rest and avoid strenuous activities that may exacerbate CTS symptoms. Lifestyle adjustments like wrist splinting, ergonomic changes, and gentle exercises may be recommended to complement the acupuncture treatment and promote long-term relief.
By combining these tailored acupuncture treatments with aftercare and lifestyle adjustments, pregnant people can find significant relief from CTS symptoms, enhancing their overall well-being during pregnancy.
For those experiencing the discomforts of Pregnancy-Induced Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, seeking the expertise of a skilled acupuncturist can be a transformative step toward relief. At Sage Acupuncture, we specialize in providing personalized acupuncture treatments tailored to the unique needs of pregnant people in the Austin and Oak Hill areas. Our experienced practitioners are dedicated to ensuring the utmost care and effectiveness in managing your symptoms. We invite you to reach out to us at Sage Acupuncture, where your health and well-being are our top priority.