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What Is The Difference Between Carpal Tunnel And Arthritis

How To Differentiate Carpal Tunnel Or Arthritis

Do I Have Carpal Tunnel or Arthritis?


People with carpal tunnel syndrome may dismiss their symptoms as simple arthritis. Knowing the differences may make a difference in how quickly a patient seeks treatment.

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Carpal Tunnel vs. Trigger Finger: Whats the Difference? Is your hand pain cause by trigger finger or carpal tunnel syndrome? Compare the symptoms and learn how to treat your hand pain.

as is a common phenomenon of arthritis, whereby the treatment merely consisted of over-the-counter anti-inflammatories. He even had a favorable prognosis in light.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic multi-system disease with predominant musculoskeletal manifestations. Being a disease that primarily attacks synovial tissues.

Press Release: Biologics Tapering Rheumatoid arthritis patients in remission may experience more successful tapering of their biologic drugs if they meet a certain set of factors.

Compression of the ulnar nerve within Guyons canal, termed ulnar tunnel syndrome, is most commonly caused by a ganglion cyst. A lack of dorsal ulnar sensory deficit.

Carpal tunnel syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis are infamous for the pain and discomfort they cause in hands and wrists, however, these conditions aren’t related.

Joint pain in the hands can affect most of your daily tasks. Rheumatoid arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome are two common causes of pain in the hands, fingers.

Symptoms Of Tendinitis In The Wrist

If you have tendinitis in your wrist, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Cracking or grating sensation when you move your wrist
  • Dull, achy pain that increases when you move your wrist
  • Mild swelling, numbness, warmth and tenderness around the wrist joint

Unlike wrist arthritis, tendinitis usually goes away with conservative treatment. If the tendon ruptures, surgery is typically necessary to repair the damaged tissue. Sudden, severe pain usually accompanies a ruptured tendon.

Treatment Similarities And Differences

  • Physical therapy exercises to relieve pressure and strengthen the affected area
  • Changing your environment or activities to compensate for pain or loss of function

In some cases, however, carpal tunnel syndrome becomes so severe that surgery is necessary to treat the problem. An outpatient surgery is performed, usually under local anesthesia, to increase the size of the space within the carpal tunnel and relieve the pressure on the median nerve by cutting the transverse carpal ligament at the base of the palm. This surgery usually relieves all symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome once the incision is healedabout 10 to 14 days.

Arthritis may also become severe enough to warrant surgery, but the procedure is very different. Reconstructive surgery is sometimes required when deformity is severe in osteoarthritis, and joint replacement may be required for people with severe rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis may also be treated with medications like disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs . Methotrexate is a DMARD commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Biologics like adalimumab , etanercept , and infliximab can also be used for this condition. These medications suppress the immune system to prevent further damage.

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Could Your Job Be To Blame

It’s a common belief that frequent typing can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. But it’s actually three times more common among assembly line workers than it is among data-entry personnel — and frequent use of vibrating hand tools increases the risk. In contrast, one study found that even heavy computer use — up to seven hours a day — did not make people more likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome.

Carpal Tunnel Vs Arthritis: Whats The Difference

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We use our hands countless times a day, making them vulnerable to disease and injury. Wrist pain can develop because of several issues, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis. While both conditions cause hand and wrist pain, there are many differences between the two.

Here are some key distinctions to note.

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How Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Diagnosed

In order to properly diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome, youll want to see your health care provider. Your doctor may look for the Tinels sign by tapping the palm side of your wrist. They may also have you flex your wrist fully while your arms are extended to test for carpal tunnel syndrome. Imaging tests such as ultrasound, MRI, or X-rays may be ordered so your doctor can look at your tissues and bones. An electromyogram uses a thin electrode to measure the muscles electrical activity. Your doctor may also connect electrodes to your hand, wrist, and arm to measure the nerve signals.

How Can Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Be Prevented

Carpal tunnel syndrome can be difficult to prevent. The condition can be caused by so many different activities in a persons daily life that prevention can be challenging. Workstation changesproper seating, hand and wrist placementcan help decrease some factors that can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. Other preventative methods include:

  • Sleeping with your wrists held straight.
  • Keeping your wrists straight when using tools.
  • Avoiding flexing and extending your wrists repeatedly.
  • Taking frequent rest breaks from repetitive activities.
  • Performing conditioning and stretching exercises before and after activities.
  • Monitoring and properly treating medical conditions linked to carpal tunnel syndrome.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Carpal Tunnel Vs Arthritis

Carpal Tunnel Symptoms

The following are symptoms associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. You may still have carpal tunnel syndrome if you have only a few symptoms.

  • Numbness, pain , and tingling in your thumb, index, and middle fingers
  • Tingling, numbness, or pain, which may move up your arm to your elbow
  • Hand weakness
  • Dropping objects
  • Difficulty feeling and handling small objects

Symptoms are usually worse at night and are sometimes temporarily relieved by “shaking out” your hands.

Arthritis Symptoms

Symptoms of arthritis include limited function and pain in the joints.

  • Inflammation of the joints from arthritis is characterized by joint stiffness, swelling, redness, and warmth.
  • Tenderness of the inflamed joint can be present. Loss of range of motion and deformity can result.
  • Certain forms of arthritis can also be associated with pain and inflammation of tendons surrounding joints.
  • Arthritis can affect any joint in the body, including the knees, hips, fingers, wrists, ankles, feet, back, and neck. The pain may be intermittent or constant.
  • Some types of arthritis cause acute episodes of symptoms .

Some forms of arthritis are more of an annoyance than a serious medical problem. However, millions of people suffer daily with pain and disability from arthritis or its complications.

Moreover, many of the forms of arthritis, because they are rheumatic diseases, can cause symptoms affecting various organs of the body that do not directly involve the joints.

Do I Have Carpal Tunnel Or Something Else

The Difference Between Wrist Tendonitis and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common term we hear from family and friends complaining of numbness or pain in the wrist. However, even though carpal tunnel syndrome is well known, there are also other conditions cause wrist pain and numbness too.

To obtain a proper diagnosis, it is essential to understand the symptoms of other common conditions related to the hand and wrist, as well as carpal tunnel syndrome.

In this article, we will cover other issues that cause numbing, tingling, pain, or numbness in the fingers and wrists, as well as what you should do if you believe youre suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome.

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Symptoms Of Arthritis In The Hand

Many different types of arthritis can affect the hand. If you have any type of hand arthritis, you may notice joint pain and:

  • Swelling in your wrists, fingers, and/or knuckles
  • Redness and warmth in the skin over your wrist and knuckle
  • Nodes or bony growths at or near the affected joints of the hands
  • Symptoms that are worse in the morning or after lots of activity

Read more about Recognizing Osteoarthritis in the Hand

Carpal tunnel syndrome can also cause symptoms that are worse in the morning, so that is not necessarily a distinguishing symptom.

People who have autoimmune arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis, may also feel tired and/or unwell.

What Are The Causes Of Carpal Tunnel And Arthritis

Carpal Tunnel Causes

The following are risk factors associated with the development of carpal tunnel syndrome:’

  • Pregnancy
  • Alcoholism

Carpal tunnel syndrome is rare in children.The relationship between work and carpal tunnel syndrome is unclear. Positions of extreme wrist flexion and extension are known to increase pressures within the carpal canal and apply pressure on the nerve. This is particularly true with repetitive strain injury to the wrist. Intensity, frequency, and duration of work activity and their relationship to carpal tunnel syndrome are unclear.

Arthritis Causes

  • injury ,
  • abnormal metabolism ,
  • inheritance ,
  • infections , and
  • an overactive immune system .

Treatment programs, when possible, are often directed toward the precise cause of the arthritis.

More than 21 million Americans have osteoarthritis. Approximately 2.1 million Americans suffer from rheumatoid arthritis.

Risk factors for arthritis include the following:

  • Age: The risk of developing many types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis , increases with age.
  • Genetics: Most types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and ankylosing spondylitis, have a genetic component.
  • Gender: Most types of arthritis are more common in females. Some types, such as gout and ankylosing spondylitis, are more common in men.
  • Overweight and obesity: Excess weight predisposes to many types of arthritis due to added wear and tear on the joints.
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    Diagnosing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

    There are several tests your doctor will perform to see if you have carpal tunnel syndrome. The Tinel test involves tapping on the median nerve to see if it causes tingling in the fingers. In the Phalen test, the doctor will have you press the backs of your hands together for a minute to see if this causes numbness or tingling.

    Can You Name Your Situation

    How To Tell The Difference Between Arthritis And Carpal Tunnel Syndrome ...

    Joint swelling in arthritis can also cause compression of the nerves in the hand or wrist, which can lead to numbness, tingling, and pain. Your healthcare provider will perform some specific tests to find out the problem.

    carpal tunnel

    • Reduces muscle mass in the fleshy part of the hand at the base of the thumb
    • Positive Tinels sign, or burning or tingling sensation when the median nerve is tapped
    • A positive Phalen sign, a test to assess pain when your arm is held vertically and your wrist is bent 90 degrees for 60 seconds
    • Weakness or poor dexterity in pinching movements
    • Pain that worsens at night or wakes you from sleep


    • Asymmetric pattern of joint involvement
    • Swollen joints other than the hands and wrists
    • Inflammatory arthritis with systemic involvement, including fever, malaise, or rash
    • Antibodies or markers of inflammation present in blood tests
    • The pain goes away after a few hours in the morning

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    Which Do I Have: Carpal Tunnel Or Wrist Arthritis

    While there are differences between carpal tunnel syndrome and wrist arthritis, there are a lot of similarities, too. The best way to be sure which condition you have is to see an orthopedic specialist who can also suggest ways to treat it.

    Your doctor may order x-rays to look for signs of arthritis. Nerve induction tests will help them decide whether or not you have median nerve compression and the severity of the problem. From there, a path can be charted toward pain relief and improved function.

    Theorthopedic surgeonsat Arkansas Surgical Hospital are experienced at treating both wrist arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome using the latest technologies and surgical procedures. Contact ustoday to schedule an appointment for an evaluation of your wrist pain.

    When To See A Doctor

    See your doctor as soon as possible if you have any pain, numbness, or other symptoms in your hands and wrists. It is important to treat carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis as early as possible.

    Waiting too long to see a doctor can lead to damage or complications to the bones and nerves in your wrists and hands.

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    Arthritis Vs Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

    While both arthritis and carpal tunnel can affect the wrists, hands, and fingers, the causes for the symptoms differ.

    Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, which means your bodys own immune system attacks the joints, causing inflammation, pain, and swelling. Here are other common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

    Osteoarthritis is the wear-and-tear type that occurs when cartilage that cushions joints wears away. Here are other common osteoarthritis symptoms.

    Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when a major nerve in the hand the median nerve becomes compressed in the carpal tunnel, a narrow passageway on the palm side of your wrist that also houses the tendons that bend the fingers.

    The floor and sides of this inch-wide tunnel are formed by small wrist bones called carpal bones, which are linked together by a ligament that overlies the top of the carpal tunnel.

    Repetitive hand motions, such as those that occur when someone works on an assembly line, often contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome. With excessive motion, the tendons of the fingers can get swollen or inflamed and squeeze the median nerve. Despite common thinking that typing causes CTS, even heavy computer use did not make people more likely to develop it, according to one study.

    Treatment For Carpal Tunnel:

    How to tell the difference between carpal tunnel and tendonitis

    A patient can wear a splint or brace at night while they are sleeping. The goal is to keep the wrist straight to stop the pressure on the nerve. Corticosteroids can be injected directly into the carpal tunnel region to relieve pain and patients can take anti-inflammatory medications. In extreme cases, surgery may be needed to reduce the pressure on the nerve.

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    The Difference Between Carpal Tunnel And Rheumatoid Arthritis

    September 12, 2017

    When it comes to pain associated with carpal tunnel syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis, it can be difficult to distinguish the difference between the two. Many people experience pain in their hands and wrists, but are unsure which is the culprit. Lets take a look at what both carpal tunnel syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis are all about and the difference in the pain associated with each one.

    Differences Between Wrist Tendonitis Vs Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

    Wrist Tendonitis and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome are two distinct clinical conditions. Both can cause significant pain and dysfunction in the hand and wrist. Tendonitis affects tendons whereas carpal tunnel syndrome affects the median nerve. Tendonitis causes pinpoint pain along the affected tendon whereas carpal tunnel syndromes presentation varies and can include pain, numbness, and tingling in the wrist, palm, and fingers. The pain of tendonitis is typically localized on the side or backside of the wrist whereas Carpal Tunnel Syndrome involves the palm side of the wrist, palm, and fingers. Tendonitis typically affects one wrist whereas bilateral involvement is common in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Both are warning signs that you have a problem that warrants your attention. If untreated tendonitis can progress to a tendon tear whereas Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can cause permanent nerve damage and muscle weakness. These differences are summarized in the chart below.

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    Causes Of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

    There are multiple causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. They can be divided into three principal causes: Local, Regional, and Systemic .

    Local Causes

    • Tumors: expanding tumor can compress the median nerve.
    • Inflammation: tendons and the surrounding sheaths called synovium can be inflamed.

    Regional Causes

    • Autoimmune Disorders such as lupus, scleroderma, and sarcoidosis.

    Difference Between Carpal Tunnel And Arthritis

    How To Tell The Difference Between Arthritis And Carpal Tunnel Syndrome ...

    While several forms of arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome can both cause pain in the hand and wrist, certain features of each condition can differentiate the two. Carpal tunnel syndrome pain is primarily the result of a pinched nerve, whereas arthritis is swelling and inflammation of the joint itself.

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    What Is The Treatment For Carpal Tunnel Vs Arthritis

    Carpal Tunnel Treatment

    Arthritis Treatment

  • For additional relief of mild symptoms, local ice application can sometimes be helpful, especially toward the end of the day. Occupational therapists can assess daily activities and determine which additional techniques may help patients at work or home.
  • There are a few forms of arthritis, such as gout, that can be impacted by dietary changes.
  • Finally, when arthritis symptoms persist, it is best to seek the advice of a doctor who can properly guide the optimal management for each individual patient.
  • For many patients with arthritis, mild pain relievers such as aspirin and acetaminophen may be sufficient treatment.
  • Studies have shown that acetaminophen given in adequate doses can often be equally as effective as prescription anti-inflammatory medications in relieving pain in osteoarthritis.
  • Since acetaminophen has fewer gastrointestinal side effects than NSAIDS, especially among elderly patients, acetaminophen is often the preferred initial drug given to patients with osteoarthritis.
  • Pain-relieving creams applied to the skin over the joints can provide relief of minor arthritis pain. Examples include
  • capsaicin,
  • methyl salicylate, and
  • menthol.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are medications that are used to reduce pain as well as inflammation in the joints. Examples of NSAIDs include
  • bleeding.
  • Arthritis Surgery

  • Large joints, such as the hips or knees, are replaced with metals.
  • Is My Hand Pain Caused By Arthritis Or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

    Before you can treat your hand pain, you need to know whats causing it. Two of the most common causes of hand pain are arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome. How can you tell if you have oneor bothof these conditions?

    Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of several conditions that either results from or shares symptoms with inflammatory arthritis.Conditions Related to Inflammatory Arthritis

    Both arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome can affect your ability to do everyday activities, such as getting dressed, driving, and using your phone and TV remote. Both can be triggered by activity or repetitive motion. To distinguish between the two conditions, doctors look for certain signs and symptoms.

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