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6 situations mistaken for carpal tunnel syndrome


You’re fairly positive one thing is occurring together with your palms. Your fingertips are so numb that you may’t really feel the buttons in your shirt once you’re making an attempt to dress. Your hand tingles once you ship a fast textual content in your telephone. And once you grip the steering wheel throughout rush hour visitors, it looks like an electrical shock that begins at your wrist and travels up your arm.

Chances are you’ll end up questioning, do I’ve carpal tunnel syndrome or one thing else?

Many adults have hand and wrist issues. One of the vital widespread is carpal tunnel syndrome, a situation that impacts about 4% of the inhabitants.

However there are different doable causes for numbness, tingling and ache in your palms, wrists and fingers. Learn on to find out about carpal tunnel syndrome, situations that mimic carpal tunnel syndrome and tips on how to get aid.

What’s carpal tunnel syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome happens when stress on the median nerve on the wrist causes numbness, tingling and ache within the hand.

So why is it referred to as carpal tunnel syndrome? It has to do with the place the stress or squeezing of the nerve occurs: within the carpal tunnel in your wrist. The carpal tunnel is a slim passageway surrounded by the wrist bones. It’s little or no – solely about an inch extensive – and the median nerve, plus 9 tendons undergo it, making it a decent match. So if there’s swelling or irritation in your wrist for any cause, it will probably trigger elevated stress on the median nerve and lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.

Who will get carpal tunnel syndrome?

We frequently take into consideration carpal tunnel syndrome occurring to workplace employees who use a keyboard all day lengthy – and there’s some reality to that. Nevertheless, generally, it can not all the time be recognized why somebody develops carpal tunnel syndrome.

Carpal tunnel syndrome may end up from harm and different medical situations. For instance, many pregnant folks have carpal tunnel syndrome, most certainly as a result of improve of blood circulate that occurs throughout being pregnant.

Frequent carpal tunnel syndrome signs

As a result of carpal tunnel syndrome is a nerve concern, modifications in sensation are the most typical signs. In case you have carpal tunnel syndrome, you’ll discover signs in your thumb and index, center or ring finger (not your little finger). The most typical signs are:

  • Numbness. Chances are you’ll really feel numbness within the palm of your hand or in your fingers. In additional excessive instances, your palms might really feel numb more often than not or you could be unable to inform the distinction between cold and warm.
  • Burning or tingling. In case you have carpal tunnel syndrome, it will probably really feel like pins and needles, or an electrical shock.
  • Numbness and tingling that wakes you from sleep. This is likely one of the most typical and problematic signs of carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Weakened grip. On account of weak spot in your hand, you could drop issues. It might be exhausting to choose up small objects, open jars or button your garments.
  • Sensation that extends up the arm. In case your carpal tunnel syndrome is unhealthy sufficient, you could really feel it up your arm and into your elbow, notably once you’re holding one thing.

Carpal tunnel syndrome signs normally begin regularly and sometimes come and go, relying on how a lot you’re utilizing your palms. Most frequently, folks first discover carpal tunnel syndrome at evening, after an extended day of utilizing their palms.

What are situations mistaken for carpal tunnel syndrome?

Earlier than seeing a health care provider, it’s widespread for folks to misdiagnose themselves for having carpal tunnel syndrome when it might be one thing else. With out seeing a health care provider, it’s not all the time simple to inform what might be flawed together with your hand or wrist as a result of many situations have signs which might be much like carpal tunnel syndrome.

However, normally, listed below are key similarities and variations between carpal tunnel syndrome and different situations that have an effect on your palms, wrists, fingers and forearms.

1. Carpal tunnel syndrome vs. wrist tendonitis

Tendonitis is irritation of a tendon in your wrist, which might occur once you overuse your wrist. Actions that may trigger tendonitis embrace crocheting, tennis, hammering and utilizing a pc.

Frequent signs between wrist tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome

Each situations could cause ache within the wrist and hand, however tendonitis doesn’t trigger numbness and tingling.

When it may be tendonitis of the wrist

It’s extra more likely to be tendonitis in case you really feel ache and stiffness that doesn’t go away once you cease the exercise, in case you really feel tenderness immediately over the affected tendon, or if the ache impacts each the palm and again sides of your hand and wrist.

2. Carpal tunnel syndrome vs. arthritis

Arthritis is irritation and lack of the cartilage, which is the gliding floor of the joint. Arthritis can have an effect on any of the joints in your physique, together with your wrists, palms and fingers. It’s extra widespread in older adults, however it will probably have an effect on folks of all ages.

Frequent signs between arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome

Arthritis could cause joint ache and swelling however doesn’t trigger numbness or tingling. Hand arthritis most frequently causes stiffness that’s worst very first thing within the morning.

When it may be arthritis of the hand

The placement of the signs is a bit of totally different than with carpal tunnel syndrome. In case your hand ache is because of arthritis, you’ll usually really feel it in your finger joints or on the base of your thumb.

With arthritis, you usually gained’t really feel tingling or numbness both. As an alternative you’ll have swelling, stiffness and tenderness, particularly round your joints. You may additionally have bony bumps across the joints, particularly in your finger knuckles.

Nevertheless, it’s doable to have each situations on the identical time. In case you have arthritis in your hand or wrist, you might have the next probability of growing carpal tunnel syndrome. One cause is as a result of the swelling in your wrists and tendons will increase stress on the median nerve.

3. Carpal tunnel syndrome vs. sprained wrist

A sprained wrist occurs when the ligaments that join the wrist and hand bones stretch too far, leading to a tiny tear or a ligament break. The most typical cause for wrist sprain is when an individual makes use of their hand to interrupt a fall. This may occur throughout a sports activities exercise or in every day life. Sprained wrists can be the results of getting hit on the wrist, excessive stress on the wrist or having the wrist twisted.

That being mentioned, the irritation and swelling from a sprained wrist can slim the carpal tunnel and irritate the median nerve. So, you could expertise some signs of carpal tunnel syndrome as you heal.

Frequent signs between a sprained wrist and carpal tunnel syndrome

Hand weak spot is a typical symptom in each of those situations.

When it may be a sprained wrist

In case your signs begin after a sudden fall or an harm, it’s extra more likely to be a sprained or damaged wrist. As well as, be looking out for signs akin to:

  • Ache
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness and heat
  • A popping or tearing in your wrist
  • Bruising
  • Weak spot and lack of movement

4. Carpal tunnel syndrome vs. nerve harm from neuropathy

Neuropathy is one other identify for nerve degeneration that may come from a wide range of causes. In case you have nerve harm from neuropathy in your palms and expertise carpal tunnel-like signs, it’s as a result of your nerves aren’t working the way in which they need to. Neuropathy is quite common, and an estimated 25-30% of People will probably be affected by neuropathy sooner or later.

Older individuals are extra more likely to have neuropathy, however it will probably have an effect on folks of all ages. You usually tend to have neuropathy if in case you have sure medical situations akin to diabetes (60-70% of individuals with diabetes even have neuropathy). Different threat components embrace alcoholism, publicity to toxins and a few medicines like chemotherapy.

Frequent signs between neuropathy and carpal tunnel syndrome

Each neuropathy and carpal tunnel syndrome could cause numbness, tingling, muscle weak spot and ache in your palms and fingers. Like with carpal tunnel syndrome, the signs of neuropathy can develop slowly, taking months and even years to develop.

When it may be neuropathy

If the neuropathy is proscribed to your palms and fingers, it may be exhausting to inform the distinction between the 2 situations.

Nevertheless, neuropathy typically impacts totally different elements of the physique. So in case you’re experiencing comparable signs in your decrease legs and ft, which may be an indication that it’s neuropathy.

As well as, there are different signs that make it extra possible that the trigger is neuropathy and never carpal tunnel. These embrace:

  • Lack of coordination
  • Muscle spasms
  • Paralysis
  • Low blood stress
  • Irregular coronary heart price
  • Extreme sweating
  • Bladder, bowel and digestive issues
  • Sexual operate issues
  • Unintentional weight reduction

5. Carpal tunnel syndrome vs. pinched nerves

Pinched nerves within the neck, a situation referred to as cervical radiculopathy, occurs when a nerve is squeezed or irritated because it branches from the spinal wire. The reason for these pinched nerves will be arthritic modifications within the backbone and is extra widespread in older adults. In youthful folks, pinched nerves within the neck are extra possible the results of a sudden harm that prompted a herniated disc.

Frequent signs between cervical radiculopathy and carpal tunnel syndrome

There are a whole lot of comparable signs between the 2 situations. Each can lead to tingling in your fingers and palms, a weakened grip and numbness.

When it may be a pinched nerve within the neck

It comes all the way down to the place the ache begins. It may be cervical radiculopathy if the ache begins in your neck and travels down your arm, or if in case you have elevated ache once you flip your head or lengthen your neck.

6. Carpal tunnel syndrome vs. tennis elbow

Regardless of the identify, this harm doesn’t solely occur to tennis gamers or athletes. Anybody who does repetitive motions with their decrease arm can get tennis elbow – so that will embrace painters, plumbers and butchers. Tennis elbow is most certainly to happen in people who find themselves between 40 and 60 years outdated.

Frequent signs between tennis elbow and carpal tunnel syndrome

Each situations could cause ache within the arm, however tennis elbow doesn’t trigger numbness and tingling.

When it may be tennis elbow

If the ache is primarily within the higher a part of your forearm and out of doors of your elbow, and the ache will get worse when gripping objects, you could have tennis elbow.

When to speak to a health care provider about your hand signs

When you might be able to guess what’s inflicting your issues based mostly in your signs, it’s a good suggestion to get an official analysis and remedy plan from a health care provider.

To diagnose your situation, your physician will study your hand and different affected areas. They’ll possible ask you to maneuver your hand in several methods and to clarify how and the place it hurts. They might additionally ask questions on your actions and what you try this causes or will increase the ache.

Based mostly on what your physician sees and hears, they might advocate a nerve check referred to as an EMG (electromyogram) to assist decide the analysis. They might additionally advocate X-rays or different imaging, blood work or further testing to substantiate the analysis.

Upon getting a analysis, your physician will develop a personalised remedy plan for you. Remedies for hand issues fluctuate by situations however can embrace workout routines, altering actions, splints, medicines and surgical procedure.

Allow us to offer you a hand

In case your palms, wrists or fingers are bothering you, we might help.

Our award-winning hand specialists will decide the supply of your hand issues and develop a remedy plan only for you. If it seems that the supply of your downside is a pinched nerve in your neck, we even have docs who deal with neck and again ache.

And in case you’re experiencing extreme hand ache, you don’t want an appointment. Simply cease by one of many TRIA pressing care areas throughout the Twin Cities metro space, open every day.

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