Is my hand pain from carpal tunnel syndrome or something else?

carpal tunnel louisiana pain specialist neil jolly

Do you ever wake up with a numb or tingly hand? You’re not alone. Most people have. But does that numbness or tingly feeling return frequently? It could be a big problem that requires a doctor to diagnose and treat it.

There are three key causes for numbness and pain in your hands. Here are some ways you can differentiate from the three:

Is it carpal tunnel syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common suspect when it comes to numbness, tingling or pain in your hands. Carpal tunnel is caused by:

  • A bony passage in your wrist that narrows. When the narrowing happens, it presses against or irritates the nerve that runs through the bony passage.
  • Symptoms of carpal tunnel typically occur in your thumb, index finger or middle finger. All three are located where the median nerve is.
  • Pain from carpal tunnel can come at night and get worse in the morning. Sometimes, if it’s early in the condition, you can shake your hands to help ease the symptoms.

Is it rheumatoid arthritis?

If it’s not carpal tunnel, it could be that the numbness and pain you are feeling in your hands stems from rheumatoid arthritis. The two can feel similar, but there are two key differences that can help you tell them apart:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis pain and stiffness typically happens in large knuckles or wrist joints, not on the fingers that run next to the nerve path.
  • The pain from rheumatoid arthritis will hurt both of your hands at the same time, not just one at a time.

Is it cervical radiculopathy caused by a spinal problem?

In some cases, the tingling, pain or numbness in your hand can stem from a bigger issue in your neck. You see, the nerves that bring senses to your hands come from your cervical spine, and sometimes, one or more of the eight nerve roots that come out of your spine can be irritated.

When that happens, you might experience pain or other symptoms along the path of the nerve, also known as cervical radiculopathy.

Things that can cause radiculopathy include:

  • Cervical herniated disc
  • Cervical spinal stenosis
  • Cervical degenerative disc disease
  • Cervical osteoarthritis

The pain levels from radiculopathy can range from mild to very sharp. The location of your symptoms is dependent on which nerve is affected.

Both carpal tunnel and radiculopathy impact the “median nerve,” but there is a major difference between the two:

  • Pain from carpal tunnel is limited to your hand and wrist.
  • Radiculopathy pain can spread from the hand and wrist to the arm and bicep.

If it’s not one of the three most common causes, then your hand pain could come from a wide range of other factors, like diet or diabetes.

If you have recurring hand pain, contact Louisiana Pain Specialists today for help.


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