Pain or tingling in your hands and fingers can make your life miserable. The simplest tasks are more difficult when you have difficulty using your hands. Though both carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis are well known conditions that affect many people, their symptoms tend to overlap, which can make it confusing to self-diagnose. On top of that, having arthritis makes it more likely that you will develop carpal tunnel syndrome. Here’s what you need to know about each condition.
What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel is a condition that affects your wrist and hand and occurs when the median nerve, which extends all the way from the center of your hand up to your forearm, becomes irritated. This happens because the tendons that are next to the median nerve become inflamed and press on the nerve. This explains why you may have symptoms along the entire length of the nerve, including your fingers.
Often, repetitive type motion that presses on the nerve can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. Some conditions, including arthritis, increase your risk for developing the syndrome. For some, the cause remains unknown.
What is arthritis?
Arthritis is a chronic disease of the joints that causes inflammation, swelling, and pain. It is a leading cause of disability in adults and there are many forms of the disease. The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which results from long-term wear and tear on the cartilage that cushions and supports your joints. Though the causes behind different types of arthritis differ, all types of arthritis can make carpal tunnel syndrome more likely to occur.
Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome can cause numbness, burning, and tingling sensations in your hands, fingers, wrists and forearms. You may find that you drop objects more often than before. You may also have difficulty holding and manipulating small objects. Often, symptoms seem worse in the evening or night. Some people find that shaking their hands helps relieve some of the symptoms, at least temporarily. Performing certain repetitive type movements can aggravate symptoms.
Symptoms of Arthritis
Arthritis can cause pain and stiffness in all the joints in your body and interfere with your range of motion. Eventually, arthritis can cause deformities in your hands, feet, and other areas and can, without treatment, get worse with time.
Carpel Tunnel or Arthritis?
If you have burning or numbness in your thumb or first two fingers, hand, and forearm, and no other pain, you probably have carpel tunnel. If you have pain in all the joints in your body, it’s more likely that arthritis is behind it.
If you are experiencing any kind of pain or numbness, it’s important to see a doctor for an evaluation. Carpal tunnel syndrome can be treated successfully, and the sooner the better. By getting prompt treatment you will avoid lasting damage. Getting a diagnosis of arthritis will also help you manage your symptoms better. Depending on the type of arthritis you have, your doctor will start you on a treatment plan. Come to North Country Orthopaedic Group for a detailed evaluation of your musculoskeletal health. Don’t wait – call (315) 782-1650 now or use our online appointment request form.