Do you experience frequent pain in your hands or fingers? If so, there could be a variety of factors causing the pain.
Two of the most common causes of hand pain are carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis. Because both conditions can cause pain in the hands, it’s easy to get them confused and make assumptions about which condition you actually have.
So how do you determine whether you have carpal tunnel or arthritis? Let’s take a closer look at these conditions and see what differentiates them from each other.
What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that causes pain, tingling, and numbness in the hands and/or arms, even up to the shoulder. The main cause of carpal tunnel syndrome is compression of the median nerve, which is located in the arm – it’s also the only nerve that goes through the carpal tunnel in the wrist area.
The most common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are pain or tingling in the hands and fingers as well as weakness and loss of proper function of the hands.
What Is Arthritis?
Arthritis is a joint disease that involves inflammation and pain, and it can affect any joint throughout the body. There are over 100 types of arthritis conditions.
Arthritis causes not only pain but also swelling and stiffness in the joints. It’s often noticed when it appears in the wrists, elbows, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles. As it progresses, arthritis can significantly reduce the range of motion of joints.
Arthritis generally starts out with pain and inflammation in just one or two joints. Over time, the pain worsens as the joint deteriorates. Arthritis can then gradually spread to other joints in the body.
Each person suffering from arthritis will experience a different progression pattern. For some patients, arthritis may start out in the hips and, several years later, spread to the shoulders and elbows. For other patients, arthritis may start in the hands and spread to other joints within a few months.
Currently, there is no cure for arthritis – but there are a variety of pain and symptom management treatments available.
Which Condition Do I Have?
One of the biggest differences between arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome is that, with carpal tunnel, pain is centralized in the hand. But arthritis travels to other joints in the body over time – and it affects much more than just your hands.
If you have joint pain in other parts of your body such as your knees, shoulders, hips, or ankles, chances are your wrist and hand pain may be an extension of arthritis pain.
Keep in mind that because arthritis can begin showing signs anywhere in the body, it is possible that the first sign of arthritis pain can occur in your hands. This can easily be misdiagnosed as carpal tunnel, so it’s important to get an evaluation by an experienced orthopedic physician.
Who Can Help with My Wrist Pain?
If you are suffering from hand or wrist pain and would like treatment – whether you have carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritis – the best thing to do is to see an orthopedic specialist. While there are some signs that can help you determine which condition you have, it’s best to consult with a professional who understands these conditions and can provide the right diagnosis.
For any kind of musculoskeletal condition like carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritis, it’s important to consult with an orthopedist to get the right diagnosis and individualized treatment. The experts at Total Orthopaedic Care have a wealth of knowledge and experience in orthopedic care and treatments.
Call us today at (954) 735-3535 to make an appointment, or fill out our simple online appointment request form right now. We look forward to helping you enjoy living the more pain-free, active lifestyle you love.