There are various illnesses that can cause pain on your wrists and hands. Arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome are the most common conditions that affect your hands but do you know how to tell them apart? If you feel discomfort and numbness in your hands that lasts for a couple of days and is already affecting your capability to use your hands, seek the advice of your physician for a precise diagnosis.
Understanding Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is the results of the tightening of the median nerve. This nerve is runs along the forearm through the wrist and into various parts of the hand. Repetitive actions, a fractured wrist and other chronic diseases such as diabetes are common risk factors in the development of this disease. Arthritis can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome as well. This disease makes you feel numbness in your hands and will get worse when you overwork it especially when the wrist is bent or you are prone to gripping objects.
The disease’s symptoms can be felt on just one hand or both and tends to become worse during the night. If the disease is diagnosed as mild, nonsurgical therapies are recommended such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines and splinting of the wrist. Surgery may be an option for severe cases in order to release pressure on the median nerve.
Understanding Wrist Arthritis
Arthritis is a chronic disease that is a result of a body’s immune system being defective. This autoimmune disease happens in the hands when the body’s own immune system attacks the tissues by mistake. It has a very painful effect on the lining of the joints which usually causes swelling, erosion of the bones and in worse cases, deformities on the joints. Arthritis in the wrists will cause you to feel swelling and will limit movement. The joints will also become tender and warm to touch. Signs of the disease usually show on both wrists and can get worse over time with pain that goes on and off. Over-the-counter pain relievers are effective to relieving the pain brought by arthritis.
Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
At first, carpal tunnel syndrome is treated with moderate rest of the hands and avoidance of activities that will worsen the case. The American Society for Surgery of the Hand strongly recommends patients with this disease to undergo therapy sessions. If the disease still persists after a few weeks, wrist splinting, ultrasound and strengthening exercises will be prescribed by your physician. For severe cases, surgery may be required. A small incision is made above the carpal tunnel and the top of the tunnel will be cut to release pressure on the nerve.
Treating Wrist Arthritis
For wrist arthritis, anti-inflammatory pills such as ibuprofen are recommended to ease the pain. Steroids such as prednisone are prescribed for persons with mild cases of arthritis. Anti-rheumatic drugs such as methotrexate are given to patients with progressive arthritis to slow down the development of the disease. When a patient shows signs of the early stages of arthritis, ample rest, avoidance of stressful activities and therapy sessions are suggested. Patients are recommended to perform light hand exercises to avoid stiffness of the joints and improve movement.
Importance of Early Diagnosis and Treatment
Both arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome have long-term complications if they are not addressed immediately. This is why it is critical to know and understand the distinction between the two diseases. Patients who are diagnosed with arthritis usually experience joint pain on other parts of the body in addition to the wrists and hands. However, for carpal tunnel syndrome, it is often only felt on the arm, wrist and shoulders. The numbness and tingling sensation of carpal tunnel syndrome is the symptom that distinguishes it apart from arthritis because it does not affect the pinky finger, it is triggered by repetitive action and expands up to the forearm.
However, wrist pains may also be a sign of an injured tendon, fractured bone or even a nerve problem on the neck or fingers. It is extremely important to seek the advice of a reputable medical expert to properly diagnose any sickness and recommend the correct treatment for the patient.