Both arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome cause hand pain and numbness. Additionally, arthritis raises the risk for carpal tunnel syndrome – so it is possible to suffer from both arthritis raises and carpal tunnel syndrome simultaneously.
Since carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms – hand and wrist pain, numbness & tingling – can be very similar to arthritis symptoms, how do you know which condition you have?
In this article board certified hand surgeon Doctor Rehman discusses the differences between arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome.
What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
The narrow space that’s between the bones and ligaments in the middle of your wrist is called the carpal tunnel. The median nerve runs through this space, controlling the sensation in your thumb, index finger, and middle finger.
When the tendons in the carpal tunnel become inflamed, they irritate this median nerve, causing pain, numbness, and tingling in your hand and arm.
How does arthritis cause carpal tunnel syndrome?
There are two common types of arthritis: rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. When either are present in the wrist, they may causes inflammation of the carpal tunnel tendons, resulting in carpal tunnel syndrome.
Since both types of arthritis already cause symptoms such as pain and tingling of the hand, it can be confusing to distinguish arthritis from carpal tunnel syndrome.
Do I Have Arthritis or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
There are some distinctive symptoms that are unique to carpal tunnel syndrome, which are not typically found in arthritis.
Carpal tunnel syndrome may cause numbness and/or tingling that:
Affects only the thumb and first 2 or 3 fingers, but not the pinky
Wakes you up at night and/or is worse first thing in the morning
Gets better if you shake your hand
Is triggered by grasping, such as holding a cell phone or steering wheel
Is triggered by repetitive motion(s) such as typing
Extends all the way up your forearm
Rheumatoid arthritis usually affects both sides of the body equally, whereas carpal tunnel syndrome is more commonly found (or worse) on one side or the other. Stiffness in rheumatoid arthritis is often worse after periods of inactivity – while carpal tunnel is generally aggravated by use of the hand.
The only way to determine the underlying cause of your hand and/or wrist pain is to see a doctor specialized in conditions of the hand. Board certified hand surgeon Doctor Rehman will examine your hand and wrist, and can conduct precise tests to determine the cause of your symptoms.
Doctor Rehman can develop a treatment plan for you to help you obtain the relief you need through medication, physical therapy and other non-surgical or surgical treatments.
West Bloomfield Hills Carpal Tunnel Doctor
If you think you may be suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, contact Dr. Rehman for a comprehensive evaluation and consultation. As with most medical conditions, early detection, awareness, and a prevention or treatment plan is the most effective way to combat the effects of conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome.
Doctor Rehman will assess your individual situation, and prescribe the treatments that are best for your condition.