Do have trouble moving your wrists while you perform your daily routines? Do actions as simple as brushing your teeth or typing at a computer cause painful spasms? Have you found yourself wondering, “What’s wrong with my wrists?” If this sounds familiar, odds are a cursory internet search will reveal two possible causes for your wrist pain: tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome. Both conditions are quite common and can occur under similar circumstances. So, what’s the difference between the two?
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Flip your palm upwards and draw a line down the inside of your forearm, through your wrist, and into your thumb, pointer, middle, and ring fingers. You’ve just traced course of your median nerve, which provides you with much of the sensation in your hand. When the bones of your wrist shift or the tendons swell, they can compress this nerve. The causes carpal tunnel syndrome: wrist pain accompanied with numbness and muscle weakness in the hand.
Oftentimes, a physician will be able to tell what’s wrong with your wrists by performing a physical examination. They may also order X-rays or electrodiagnostic tests to rule out other conditions before recommending a treatment regimen. When identified early, splinting, icing, and corticosteroid injections should be enough to resolve your carpal tunnel in a matter of months. More advanced conditions, however, may require surgical intervention to free the compressed nerve.
Tendons connect muscles to bones, and—as you can imagine—complex structures like your wrists and hands contain a several of them. Performing hand-intensive activities without properly supporting or resting your wrists can inflame these tendons, making them swell and causing wrist pain that intensifies with movement.
After diagnosing your tendonitis, a doctor will likely recommend following the R.I.C.E. approach (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). Over-the-counter pain relievers may also prove helpful while you recover. In extreme situations, you may want to visit a physical therapist to learn some stretching exercises and behavior modification techniques.
Of course, the best way to determine whether you’re suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis is to consult a board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic doctor. Schedule an appointment with Premier Bone & Joint Centers today to receive care worthy of Wyoming.