Posted by: ugleepen | February 24, 2015

Hand Pain? Is it Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or Arthritis?

aaaDo you have a job where you make repetitive movements with your hand, and experience pain and maybe numbness in your hand?

How do you know if that pain is due to arthritis, or to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Although Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) and arthritis can occur together, the causes of the two conditions are not related.

When you have arthritis within your hand, the two most common places to get it are the ends of the finger joints and at the base of the thumb. “Thumb Arthritis” is most generally related to Repetitive Stress Syndrome, where repetitive movements of your hand can result in the cartilage in the joints wearing away.

Without cartilage to cushion them, the ends of the bones in the joint rub together.

The most common symptom of Thumb Arthritis is pain at the base of the thumb. Other signs may include swelling, stiffness and tenderness at the base of the thumb, a lack of strength when you grasp objects, and a decreased range of thumb motion.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) also affects the hand, but symptoms differ somewhat from those of arthritis.

The most common symptoms of CTS are numbness and tingling in the thumb and fingers, except the little finger, which CTS does typically not affect.

As with Thumb Arthritis, CTS can lead to loss of feeling and weakness in your hand, making it hard to pick up or hold objects. However, instead of involving cartilage, CTS  occurs as a result of your median nerve becoming pinched or compressed.

That nerve runs from your forearm through a passageway in your wrist, called the carpal tunnel, into your hand.

The median nerve controls sensation in the palm side of your thumb and fingers, with the exception of your little finger. It also provides nerve signals that move the muscles around the base of your thumb.

A diagnosis of CTS can be made by reviewing symptoms and doing a physical exam. An electrodiagnostic test may be performed to determine the presence and severity of the median nerve irritation.

If you are diagnosed with CTS and also Thumb Arthritis, the two conditions can be treated at the same time. See your physician.

Source: Dr. Sanjeev Kakar, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN

 

 

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