Painful forearms and wrists are a very normal symptom during pregnancy. Most often the pain will go away after delivery, but let’s discuss why it happens and anything you can do to make it better.
Hi, I’m Hilary — The Pregnancy Nurse 👩⚕️. I have been a nurse since 1997 and I have 20 years of OB nursing experience, I am also the curly head behind Pulling Curls and The Online Prenatal Class for Couples. 🩺 I have seen thousands of pregnant moms in my time, and so many complain of pain in their wrists and forearms, so I’m excited to give you some high quality info to think about.
Painful Wrists & Forearms in Pregnancy
Our arms have so many nerves and muscles and do so much for us. So, when things go just somewhat wrong it can translate into real issues.
Why Wrists Hurt in Pregnancy
During pregnancy, it isn’t unusual to have some increased fluid in your tissues. You’ll notice it less in your feet, and ankles, but because those areas don’t have as many nerves (although there’s still plenty foot pain in pregnancy).
In your wrists, because there ARE so many nerves that go through that area, as the fluid builds up it can be extremely painful.
You can feel it in your forearms or your wrist. Most often on the underside (where the nerves are).
This is very similar to the reasons for carpal tunnel (that is due to a nerve getting pinched in that area) — and can feel like carpel tunnel as well.
And, just like carpal tunnel, it can be caused by repetitive hand/wrist movements (like office work).
If you like easy explanations about pregnancy & labor, be sure to check out this class.
What You Can Do About Painful Wrists in Pregnancy
So, as you think about what to do about the problem, remember why it is normally caused.
Rest or Ice It
When you’re feeling pain, it could just be too much work for that part of your body. Take a break from what you’re doing (especially if it is repetitive hand/wrist movements).
If it’s really hurting, ice might help. This type of system has a brace and ice — so that’s handy. But, any type of ice in the area that hurts could be helpful.
Stretching of Upper Limbs
Stretching out your body can really help this issue. Often times this can be an extension of issues from your neck.
A video like this could be helpful. Upper limb and back stretching can really be helpful!
Strength Building of Upper Limbs
Something else you could consider is some light weights for your upper body. Building those muscles and working all that fluid through that area could really help.
Some people find a wrist brace helpful. However, it may just make it worse. The braces aren’t expensive though, and it might be worth a try if you’re miserable (I’d try the stretching first though).
It doesn’t make sense that you’d add MORE water to your body if you were swollen, but often increasing water helps it to flow through your body with more ease. More water is almost always an answer during pregnancy.
If you talk to your provider about this, they may say that it is a normal part of pregnancy, but if it is really bothering you, you could consider seeing a physical therapist or a chiropractor, depending on your preference. Always discuss with your provider about seeing one of those people first, but they specialize in bones and muscles, so they are a good option.
Those are my best tips for wrist pain during pregnancy. The main good news is that once you have your baby the fluids will slowly decrease and you should go back to normal. If it doesn’t, you may have actual carpel tunnel, and you’d want to see your provider to see what else to do at that point.
If you’re interested in helpful information about your pregnancy, from a reliable source, please consider checking out The Online Prenatal Class for Couples. I’ll boil down all the difficult points of pregnancy, just like I did this one, to make it simple and easy to follow. 🙂
And, if you’re not quite sure you’re ready for that whole thing, check out my free prenatal class. It’s your first step toward becoming your own birth boss.
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A nurse since 1997, she has worked in various fields including pediatrics, geriatrics & hospice.
She has 20 years of labor and delivery experience in the San Jose, CA and Phoenix, AZ areas.