There are a few conditions that are becoming very dominant in our world today. No, we're not talking about diabetes or hypertension, but today, it's about something that we tend to ignore for much longer only till we realize its too late.
We use our hands for almost everything. It's only when we feel a constant pain in hands and wrists that we realize that even the simplest of tasks have become so tough to manage.
So, what could be causing it? The two biggest culprits of this pain are either carpal tunnel syndrome or rheumatoid arthritis. And that is where the carpal tunnel vs arthritis confusion begins. With symptoms so similar, they are often mixed. Some even believe that an early stage carpal tunnel syndrome might evolve to become arthritis in the wrist and hands in the future.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome vs. Arthritis
What Is The Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that causes numbness weakness and tingling in your hand. It occurs due to the median nerve, which runs through a passaged called the carpal tunnel from the arm to your wrist. The median nerve is responsible for controlling the movement and feeling in all your fingers except the pinky.
You are likely to suffer from this is syndrome if you irritate or compress the nerve in situations such as having a wrist fracture, inflammation in the wrist, holding the phone too long or having a long desk job spent typing or clicking. Patients with advanced-stage carpal tunnel syndrome report waking up from sleep due to the pain and tingling.
If you have been using your phone a lot, have had a recent wrist injury or just feel tingling in your hands and wrists, take frequent breaks to rest your hands. It would be best if you also did some hand exercises to feeling relaxed.
Remember, though, carpal tunnel syndrome generally starts with tingling and numbness, which comes and goes. However, with time, the condition progresses, and the numbness becomes much more constant. If you start dropping things or feel like your hand has become weak, you need immediate medical attention.
If you believe that at home therapies are not making your situation better, visit your doctor for additional options to manage carpal tunnel syndrome instead of waiting to find if its carpal tunnel or arthritis.
What Is Arthritis?
Arthritis is the swelling or tenderness of your joints. If you have arthritis, you may feel pain and stiffness in your joints, which worsens with age. Arthritis has many types. The two most common types of arthritis include osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis occurs due to the wear and tear of your joints. All joints have cartilage that cushions them from grinding against each other. With time, the cartilage may wear out, exposing the joints to each other, which then causes intense pain as your move.
Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is an autoimmune condition. In this condition, your body's immune system begins attacking the joints, causing pain, swelling and inflammation.
Patients of arthritis feel stiffness in the morning, which may last for a couple of hours. Their joints feel warm and swollen on touch. Upon moving the joint of the area suffering from arthritis, you may feel a grating sensation coupled with popping and crackling. You may also not be able to move your joints through their full motion.
Arthritis may occur to anyone at any age, but certain risk factors increase your likeliness of developing it. These include being overweight, being in middle or old age, having genetics that predisposes you to develop arthritis, bone deformities, or repeated joint stress,
So what is it about arthritis that makes us wonder if the pain we have is carpal tunnel or arthritis? In early stages, arthritis affects smaller joints such as in the fingers and toes and gradually progresses to wrists, elbows, knees, hips and shoulders. In some patients swelling from arthritis has caused carpal tunnel syndrome. So, if you are facing tingling, burning or numbness in your hands, it is best to visit a doctor quickly and not wait to find whether its carpal tunnel or arthritis.
Only a doctor can give a final verdict of carpal tunnel vs arthritis. Regardless of which you have, remember not to be hard on yourself and always take care of your wellbeing to live a fulfilling life.