Wrist Pains: Is It Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or Tendonitis?

Wrist Pains: Is It Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or Tendonitis?

Over usage and repetitious stress injuries are common in physical sports and in the workplace, and pain in the wrist is no different. As the pain and numbness begin to start in your wrists or hands, you may think that you have carpal tunnel syndrome. However, you may also be suffering from the symptoms of wrist tendonitis. So, what is the difference between the two medical conditions?

Wrist Pains: Is It Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or Tendonitis?

Causes

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Scientists have yet to discover the real cause of carpal tunnel disease. However, most experts believe that repetitious activities such as typing on a keyboard, sports injury and pregnancy are all factors that contribute to the development of the disease. This is because these activities and situations lead to inflammation that pressurizes the median nerve that is found along the wrist and hand.

Diseases such as hypothyroidism, all forms of arthritis and acromegaly are also believed to increase the chances of having carpal tunnel disease. The said medical conditions cause nerve entrapment, a condition in which pressure is applied on the median nerve leading to numbness and discomfort.

Tendonitis

Aging, repetitious movement and overuse are all causes of tendonitis. Tendons become inflamed and eventually tear if they are overused or always at work. Consistently using the swelling tendons means the tears will gradually become larger. A larger torn tendon means more pain.

Symptoms

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The signs of carpal tunnel syndrome are discomfort on the sides of the wrist and numbness of the thumb, index and middle fingers. Most people with this disease can also feel itchiness on their wrist.

Tendonitis

Pain on the wrist, numbness and weakness on the affected area are some of the distinctive symptoms of tendonitis. Another sign that a person suffers from tendonitis is a tingling sensation on the little finger due to the fact that the median nerve does not reach this finger.

Treatments

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Medical care for carpal tunnel syndrome includes wearing splints and ample rest of the affected arm. Wearing wrist braces can aid in decreasing the tension on the median nerve. Anti-inflammatory medicine such as ibuprofen can be taken to lessen the swelling and discomfort.

Tendonitis

For the milder cases of tendonitis, treatments can include injection of steroids, taking pain relievers and other NSAIDs. It is also suggested to undergo physical therapy and wearing of a splint. For the more severe cases, surgery may be required to remove the torn tissues. Removal of these tissues means the patient is required to rest for several weeks and restrict movement of the affected area.

Summary of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome happens when the median nerve – the nerve connecting the forearm to the arm – is damaged or constricted. The definite cause of this disease is still unknown but is often associated with repetitious movements. It can also be a sign of pregnancy, being obese or a recent injury that may have caused it to swell and have nerve damage.

Summary of Tendonitis

Similar to carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis is also caused by repetitious activities involving the hands and wrist. Overused tendons get damaged and torn which results in inflammation. Symptoms of tendonitis may seem similar to carpal tunnel syndrome. In addition to these symptoms, tendonitis also makes the patient loss their strength in gripping and will have restricted movement in the affected area.

The Difference

Despite the fact that carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most typical workplace injuries, it is not as common as you think. According to a recent study, carpal tunnel syndrome affects almost 8 million individuals in the United States alone. However, considering the population, it only totals to 2.5 percent. However, due to similarity of symptoms, it is uncertain who really has tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome.

The key to differentiating the two will depend on where the pain is located. For carpal tunnel syndrome, the pain can be felt on the palm and on the thumb, index and middle finger. When the pain is located at the back of the hand, it is most likely caused by tendonitis. The most distinct symptom of tendonitis is the tingling sensation on the little finger. This symptom is not present in carpal tunnel syndrome since the median nerve does not reach the little finger.