Arthritis, or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Each morning I wake up with pain and discomfort in my hands due to arthritis. My sister says that I may have carpal tunnel syndrome. Arthritis is inflammation in the joints that causes pain and swelling. According to the Arthritis Foundation, depending on your health situation, arthritis takes on many forms such as:

  • Osteoarthritis (OA) The most common form of arthritis which is a progressive degenerative joint disease characterized by the breakdown of joint cartilage. The risk factors are being overweight, history of joint injury and age.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) This is common in those with systemic disease causing inflammation of the membranes lining the joint. This causes pain, stiffness, warmth, swelling and sometimes severe joint damage.
  • Juvenile Arthritis (JA) This form of arthritis develops in children ages 16 and younger. Risk factors are due to autoimmune and inflammatory conditions.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, on the other hand, is a hand and arm condition that causes numbness, tingling, and other symptoms. Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by a pinched nerve in your wrist. According to the Mayo Clinic, a number of factors can contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome such as:

  • Anatomy of your wrist
  • Certain underlying health problems
  • Patterns of hand use

The carpal tunnel is bound by bones in ligaments and is a narrow passageway located on the palm side of your wrist. This tunnel protects a main nerve to your hand and the nine tendons that bend your fingers. Compression of the nerve produces the numbness and tingling which eventually leads to hand weakness that characterize carpal tunnel syndrome.

Thankfully, carpal tunnel syndrome can be relieved by proper treatment whereas pain brought on due to an autoimmune disorder is more chronic. Chronic disorders require on-going care because of the immune system attacking itself.

Now that you know the difference between arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome, make sure you see a doctor to get a proper diagnosis before you self-medicate.

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