June 13, 2019 3 min read


Let’s get down to the nitty gritty! If you have finger joint pain, finger joint stiffness, or soreness in your wrists, it is hard to know whether you have arthritis in your wrists or carpal tunnel syndrome. Both conditions have similar symptoms like pain or numbness. But don’t worry, we’ve broken the two down for you! 


Arthritis is a painful condition that can occur anywhere in the body. It is a degenerative disease that targets the joints in your body including your wrists. There are four main types of arthritis that can be diagnosed in your wrists. Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and posttraumatic arthritis.
To notice if arthritis is what is affecting your wrists, here are some key indicators:

● Finger joint pain
● Swollen fingers
● Finger Joint inflammation
● Weakness in your wrists
● Limited range of motion
● Clicking, cracking or grinding sounds when performing normal activities

Individuals already diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in other parts of their body are more likely to develop it in their wrists.
Unlike Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, arthritis in wrists is an unusual and painful feeling. If you experience pain when turning a doorknob, gripping a tennis racket or golf club, or twisting the lid off a jar you may have arthritis in your wrists.
In more severe arthritis cases, the pain basically all daily activities will hurt your wrists. Arthritis in your wrists is more of chronic pain than Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.


Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

The name of this condition is based on the area you have in your hand called the carpal tunnel! It is in the narrow space between the bones and ligaments found at the center of your wrist.
A large median nerve is located there that controls all the sensations in your thumb, index finger, and middle finger. You can usually feel the large median nerve in your wrist when you wiggle your middle finger, and a lot of your other fingers follow the movement.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome happens when the tendons within the carpal tunnel become inflamed and brush up against the middle nerve. This usually irritates the median nerve. Because the median nerve controls all the sensations in most of your hand, irritation of it results in pain, numbness, and tingling sensations in your hand and arm.
Arthritis in wrists can also cause you to feel pain and numbness, but Carpal Tunnel syndrome has some distinct effects that arthritis does not:
◈ Tingling sensations in your second or third fingers, but never your pinky finger
◈ Tingling or pain waking you up at night
◈ Feeling worse in the morning than at night
◈ Getting better if you repeatedly shake your hand
◈ Holding a phone or driving can trigger pain and numbness
◈ Repeating the same motion can also trigger pain and numbness
◈ Burning pain that extends up through your forearm

Risk Factors of Developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Women are three times more likely to develop Carpal Tunnel Syndrome than men, due to the physical size of smaller wrists making the median nerve more likely to become irritated in rubbing against smaller areas.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is also an occupational hazard, and people who are in the assembly line of work are significantly more likely to develop it. Repetitive motions like manufacturing, sewing, cleaning, typing, or packing meats daily will increase the risk of the disease by three times. If you are in a line of work like this, it is more likely that you have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome than arthritis in your wrists.

Treatment for Carpal Tunnel syndrome include splinting, avoiding daytime activities that may provoke symptoms, over-the-counter-drugs, prescription medicines, and alternative therapies like yoga.
Treatment for severe arthritis in the wrists include activity modification, immobilization, medications, exercise, steroid injections, and other therapies like hot and cold treatments.

Talking to your doctor if your arthritis symptoms worsen or if you having a hard time coping with the chronic pain, it is crucial to review your treatment plan. Changing your daily activities that aggravate your wrists is also beneficial.
Cut down or minimize these repetitive motions to minimize symptoms and prevent further damage. Alternative therapies appear to assist arthritis pain, but it is best to meet with your doctor first, so they do not interfere with your overall treatment.
Please consult your doctor if you are experiencing any of the above listed Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or Arthritis Symptoms. It is best to get a professional opinion. 

Shabir Aminzada
Shabir Aminzada

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