Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common hand problems. But as the condition shares many of the same symptoms with other health problems, it’s sometimes misdiagnosed. Read on for the two conditions that are often misdiagnosed as carpal tunnel syndrome and why.
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a condition that’s caused by pressure on the median nerve. The median nerve travels through the forearm to the wrist through a passageway known as the carpal tunnel.
The condition can cause pain, tingling, and numbness in the hands and fingers. While CTS can sometimes get better on its own in a few months, if you’re symptoms get worse, you may need further treatment.
CTS is more common in women than men and tends to develop between the ages of 50-54 and 75-84.
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How Often is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Misdiagnosed and Why?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is often misdiagnosed, and screening is problematic. The reason that it’s frequently misdiagnosed is that it shares symptoms with several other conditions. Carpel tunnel syndrome symptoms like pain, numbness, tingling and difficulty grasping are symptoms of other conditions too.
What are Two Conditions that are Often Misdiagnosed as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
One condition that’s commonly misdiagnosed as carpal tunnel syndrome is arthritis. Arthritis can affect all the fingers, whereas CTS can’t affect the pinky finger. Another key difference is that CTS tends to be worse at night, and arthritis isn’t affected by time. So, while the two share symptoms, there are some key differences between the conditions. In particular, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is easily mistaken for CTS in the early stages.
Another condition that shares symptoms is wrist flexor tendonitis. The signs and symptoms of the conditions are similar. Both can have hand or finger tingling, pain, and numbness. While they may seem similar, the “tell” comes from the location of the pain or discomfort. CTS occurs on the palm side of the wrist, and the tingling can move to the thumb, index finger, and middle finger. On the other hand, tendonitis occurs on the other side of the wrist with numbness in the pinky finger. If you experience symptoms in the pinky finger, it can’t be CTS as carpal tunnel syndrome doesn’t extend to the pinky.
These are just two of the conditions that are often misdiagnosed as carpal tunnel syndrome. That’s why it’s so important to speak with your doctor and get an accurate diagnosis.
What Has the Same Symptoms as Carpal Tunnel?
Other conditions that may share some of the same symptoms as carpal tunnel syndrome include:
- Pinched nerves
- Ligament damage
- Wrist injury
Carpel Tunnel Syndrome Treatment at The Harley Clinic
Carpal tunnel syndrome treatment includes a combination of non-surgical and surgical methods. You may be asked to wear a carpal tunnel syndrome splint for mild to moderate cases or to adjust your activities that may aggravate the condition. If your condition does not improve, your doctor may suggest carpal tunnel release surgery.