Carpal Tunnel and Arthritis: What’s Your Pain Source?

Carpal tunnel pain

Are your or someone you know experiencing pain in your muscles and joints? Are you unsure of what the causes this pain? Oftentimes it is hard to distinguish between carpal tunnel and arthritis. Here are symptoms of both so you can tell the difference between the two.

Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel

  1. Numbness in the fingers. A common symptom of carpal tunnel is the “falling asleep” of one’s fingers (the thumb, ring and middle fingers), particularly at nighttime. If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night with a tingly feeling in your hands or a burning pain and numbness that runs all the way up your arm, you may be experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome. If the pain continues, see your doctor.
  2. Muscle weakness. As the syndrome becomes more severe, you may notice reduced grip strength, pain, muscle cramping or muscle weakness. The slowing of nerve impulses and coordination is often another common symptom.
  3. Swelling. Severe inflammation in the fingers and hands may occur, causing unpleasant pain in the joints. Loss of flexibility and decreased range of motion may also be a result of swelling in the hands and wrists.

Symptoms of Arthritis

  1. Joint pain. Symptoms of arthritis include joint pain in several different areas: fingers, wrist, hands, ankles, heels, back and neck. These pains can be both sharp or intermittent. It is common to experience excessive tenderness, swelling or stiffness in your joints and muscles.
  2. Fatigue. Feeling extra tired lately? Lacking motivation to get up and move around? You could be experiencing tiredness due to arthritis pain and joint inflammation.
  3. Abnormal growth. Those with arthritis may develop uncommon-looking bumps or outgrowths on their fingers, toes or hands. These lumps are typically fluid-filled cysts and appear, disappear and change size quite often. While they do not typically require treatment, there are treatment options available.

There are two distinct differences between carpal tunnel and arthritis: time of day and area of pain. While carpal tunnel pain is typically associated with the fingers, hands and wrists during the nighttime, arthritis can be present at any time of day and occurs in a multitude of joints and muscles.

If symptoms for both carpal tunnel or arthritis are not treated right away, it could result in the deterioration of important muscle tissue and eventually the full loss of hand motion. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, consult your doctor right away.

Still not sure if you are suffering from carpal tunnel or arthritis pain? Here is a quick quiz on carpal tunnel syndrome to help give you more insight!

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