GCTS can cause pain, numbness, and tingling in the hand and arm. While the exact cause of GCTS is unknown, it’s hypothesized that fluid retention, weight gain, and hormones are contributing factors.
“Conventional medical wisdom has been that GCTS simply goes away after pregnancy, and for many women this is true,” said lead author, Philip E. Blazar, M.D., chief, Hand and Upper Extremity Service at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Mass. “However, in our practice this wasn’t always the case, and it warranted additional analysis to help educate physicians, advise patients with persistent carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) and continue research in this field.”
Dr. Blazar and his team prospectively administered a survey, Boston Carpal Tunnel Questionnaire (BCTQ) to women in their third trimester of pregnancy. A total of 368 patients in their third trimester with GCTS and no prior history of CTS were studied. The women were then asked to complete additional questionnaires at two to six weeks, three months, six months and 12 months postpartum or until symptoms were resolved or they underwent surgical treatment.
Among the findings of the research:
- Approximately 28 percent of previously asymptomatic patients will have GCTS in their third trimester.
- An overwhelming majority of symptomatic patients, 84.8 percent (n=56), will have resolution by six weeks postpartum.
- One month after delivery, 15.2 percent (n=10), of patients still had persistent symptoms of CTS.
- For women who didn’t have resolution three months postpartum, symptoms persisted and worsened over time.
- Some demographic and comorbid conditions increased the likelihood of developing GCT including non-Caucasian, higher BMI, history of smoking and preeclampsia.