Pinched Nerve in Neck While Pregnant
A pinched nerve in the neck while pregnant can make life extremely difficult, especially when pregnancy is also affecting sleep, mood, and general energy levels. Many women experience this complication that can cause neck pain during pregnancy and it is often connected to the increased water retention caused by hormonal changes along with the secretion of relaxin in pregnancy. Sciatica from a pinched nerve in the lumbar spine is, however, a more likely problem for women than a pinched nerve in the neck while pregnant.
Changes in weight and the distribution of weight during pregnancy, as well as alterations in the laxity of connective tissues, water retention, and even the propensity for inflammatory reactions can all contribute to an increased incidence of pinched nerves in the spine. Pinched nerves in the neck do not necessarily manifest as neck pain but could show up as radicular pain or paraesthesia in the arms, hands, or even across the chest. Relaxation of the connective tissues in pregnancy can mean that nerves become trapped between ligaments and tendons as the structures of the body shift slightly.
Sleeping in Pregnancy with a Pinched Nerve
Pregnancy often leads to interrupted and unsatisfactory sleep and this can make any pain, anxiety, tension, and discomfort even harder to bear than if fully refreshed. Pharmaceutical and herbal sleep aids may not be suitable in pregnancy and should be checked before use but there are many other ways of improving sleep. Cutting out caffeine and other stimulants can help promote restorative sleep, as can the use of essential oils such as lavender (although this is contraindicated for topical use in pregnancy). Pregnancy pillows such as the Dream Genii are also very popular for offering support where needed and improving sleep, as are neck pain pillows.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in Pregnancy
Pinched nerves in the neck while pregnant may manifest in a similar fashion to carpal tunnel syndrome which can cause some confusion over the origin of the symptoms. Inflammation in the body and the retention of water can put pressure on the nerves in the cervical spine and in the arms and hands leading to pins and needles, numbness, weakness, and other altered sensation. The simple technique of elevating the hands may help to relieve this condition related to swelling induced during pregnancy.
Treating Pinched Nerves in Pregnancy
Medications that may be considered safe for most adults may not be appropriate for treating a pinched nerve during pregnancy. Over-the-counter pain medications, such as acetaminophen, are often used for neck pain in pregnancy although the safety of any medication for pregnant patients should be checked with the pharmacist or doctor before use. On some occasions it may be that stress and anxiety about the pregnancy, labor, or impending parenthood are at the root of the neck pain by causing muscle tension and pinched nerves in the neck. In such cases it may be that counselling or antidepressant/anxiolytic drugs are the preferred treatment.
Pregnancy Massage for Pinched Nerves in the Neck
Neck pain and back pain can be irksome and debilitating at the best of times but during pregnancy they can make even the simplest of tasks seem impossible. Chiropractic treatment and massage may not be appropriate in all cases but many therapists are trained in working with pregnant women and can offer considerable relief from tension and neck pain. It is important to find an experienced chiropractor knowledgeable about therapy during pregnancy.
Preventing Pinched Nerves in the Neck During Pregnancy
It is not possible to completely eradicate the risk of pinched nerves in the neck during pregnancy but it is thought that those women who stay active and healthy during pregnancy are at a lower risk of such complications. Stretching, pregnancy yoga, and other gentle exercise can all help with water retention, circulation, tissue oxygenation, and in relieving tension that can contribute to neck pain and pinched nerves in the neck while pregnant.
Last Updated: 03/01/2012