Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Is carpal tunnel syndrome the same thing as arthritis?"
If my hand hurts from using the computer too much is it carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritis? Are they the same thing?
Carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis are two completely unrelated conditions. Arthritis is a general term used to describe inflammation that occurs in a joint space. With the most common type of arthritis (called osteoarthritis), the joint space becomes inflamed because of overuse of the joint and breakdown of the cartilage within the joint. This type of arthritis can occur in any joint including the wrist and finger joints. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a syndrome where a nerve that controls and senses pain in the hand becomes trapped in the wrist between the tendons and other structures that are all trying to fit through the small space in the wrist. When this nerve becomes trapped, it causes weakness and pain in the thumb, pointer finger, and middle finger of the hand. This pain is relieved by rest. These two causes of pin in the hand can be easily distinguished by your primary care physician. I suggest that you schedule an appointment today. A simple physical exam of your hand and wrist will be able to distinguish between these two common causes of pain and discomfort. From there, your doctor will either be able to initiate treatment, or refer you to an orthopedic surgeon or rheumatologist, whichever is more appropriate.
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