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Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a prevalent condition that plagues many individuals who engage in repetitive hand movements or face certain risk factors. It’s often the go-to diagnosis when people experience hand pain, but what if their symptoms are being misrepresented?
In this blog, we delve into the world of hand pain, examining how arthritis and flexor tendonitis can mimic the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome and understanding the critical differences between them. If you’ve been grappling with hand discomfort and suspect CTS, it’s essential to uncover the source of your pain and explore the right avenues for treating hand arthritis, tendonitis, and CTS.
Frequently, patients visit our office with various concerns, often convinced they are dealing with carpal tunnel syndrome due to their primary complaint of hand pain. However, as mentioned, it’s essential to recognize that there are two conditions that are often misdiagnosed as carpal tunnel syndrome: tendonitis and arthritis. They affect different areas of the wrist and hand, and can frequently masquerade as carpal tunnel.
Through a thorough examination and detailed patient history, we can swiftly discern these conditions, ruling them in or out as potential sources of discomfort. carpal tunnel, with its distinct presentation, requires a different diagnostic approach.
These conditions, including carpal tunnel, arthritis, and tendonitis, are often present with hand pain, prompting patients to seek answers on the internet. CTS is a common search result due to its prevalence as a nerve compression issue.
Distinguishing between these conditions necessitates a comprehensive approach, involving a thorough physical examination and a detailed patient history. CTS features nocturnal pain, thumb, index, and ring finger numbness, and potential weakness, whereas tendonitis varies depending on the affected tendon, causing pain and stiffness. Arthritis in the fingers may lead to morning stiffness, often misattributed to nerve-related issues.
In the context of CTS, healthcare providers typically assess key indicators in their patients’ histories, which include examining for nocturnal symptoms, such as night pain.
On the other hand, arthritis in hands and wrists often presents differently. Patients with arthritis commonly report pain related to hand usage, particularly in areas like the base of the thumb, a common site for arthritis-related discomfort. They describe experiencing pain when gripping and pinching objects, in contrast to the nocturnal pain frequently associated with CTS. Notably, numbness and tingling, indicative of nerve compression, are prevalent symptoms in carpal tunnel cases but are not typical features of arthritis-related pain.
Tendonitis, like trigger finger, displays unique symptoms such as finger stiffness and mechanical issues when flexed. Patients with tendonitis typically experience localized pain and tenderness around the flexor tendons of the hand and fingers, especially during hand use.
In contrast, CTS shares some symptoms of hand pain during use. Still, it is distinguished by specific features: nocturnal pain, numbness, and tingling in the fingers, indicative of nerve compression. Weakness and difficulty holding objects are more frequently linked to nerve entrapment, establishing a distinct pattern.
In the treatment of CTS, healthcare providers often follow a step-wise approach, tailoring interventions to the patient’s specific needs:
Advanced Treatment Options
Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery
When Addressing Tendonitis
For hand pain or related symptoms, take the next step toward relief and accurate diagnosis. Request an appointment with Town Center Orthopaedics today, where our experienced hand doctors are ready to guide you toward better hand health. Begin your journey to a pain-free future by requesting an appointment.
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