When you first start to develop carpal tunnel syndrome the symptoms may appear slowly, with pain, tingling, or numbness in a few of your fingers or part of your palm. Some people first experience carpal tunnel symptoms with pain and swelling in their wrist or even in their forearm. If left untreated, carpal tunnel syndrome can actually cause weakness and poor coordination in your hands and fingers. If you’ve ever been diagnosed with osteoarthritis in your arm, wrist, or hand then you are actually at risk of developing carpal tunnel. There are osteoarthritis treatment options that also include managing or preventing carpal tunnel syndrome.
What Is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that involves inflammation in the joints. As the cartilage in your joints begins to break down, the bones in your joints can start to rub against one another and cause significant pain and discomfort. Osteoarthritis is commonly understood as the “wear and tear” type of arthritis that develops with age. As cartilage breaks down over time, your joints can become swollen, painful, and warm to the touch. When you develop osteoarthritis in the wrist it can make everyday activities like opening a jar or picking something up off the ground incredibly painful. Many who experience osteoarthritis in their wrists and hands report a dull, aching pain, though certain activities can cause a sharp and stabbing pain through the wrist.
What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome refers to pressure on the median nerve that runs through your wrist. The carpal tunnel is actually a narrow passageway shaped like a tunnel in your wrist and palm that houses the median nerve. Nearby bones and ligaments can put pressure on the median nerve, causing tingling, numbness, and weakness in your hand and arm. Repetitive motions, like using smartphones, can cause carpal tunnel syndrome when the tendons in your wrists become inflamed and compress the median nerve. Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome tend to get worse when performing certain activities, like gripping or holding something. In more serious cases of carpal tunnel syndrome, you may develop weakness that makes it difficult to hold onto objects without dropping them.
How Can Osteoarthritis Lead to Carpal Tunnel?
Osteoarthritis can lead to carpal tunnel because of how inflammation in your wrists due to cartilage breakdown can compress the median nerve. As the cartilage breaks down in your wrist, your wrist joint may become painful and you may experience swelling in the area. When the median nerve is compressed or irritated by nearby bone or soft tissue it can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. Over time, osteoarthritis and the loss of cartilage in the wrist joint can affect lead to deformities in the wrist, which can negatively affect the carpal tunnel that houses the median nerve. Women who develop osteoarthritis in the wrist are also more at risk to develop carpal tunnel syndrome because it is more common in women and they may also have smaller carpal tunnels.
Treatment for Osteoarthritis
While there is no cure for osteoarthritis, there are osteoarthritis treatment options that help provide both short-term and long-term relief for the pain and discomfort. Low-impact exercises can help strengthen the muscles that support your joints to help provide stability in the area. Hot and cold therapies also help to reduce swelling and inflammation that can cause painful symptoms. There are also assistive devices like braces or slings that can help take the pressure off the affected area and provide additional support. At Alan Nathans Family Chiropractic, we also offer soft wave therapy as an effective osteoarthritis treatment in a number of cases.
Treatment for Carpal Tunnel
Similar to osteoarthritis in the wrist, there are braces available that can help support your wrist. Resting the area as often as possible also helps to take the pressure off the median nerve and give the muscles and tendons in your wrist a chance to reduce any swelling. Pain medications may provide temporary relief from the pain, though carpal tunnel syndrome treatments must address the root cause of the pain in order to provide long-term relief. Identifying what is compressing the median nerve helps to address the root cause of carpal tunnel syndrome.
If you have an osteoarthritis diagnosis and are also concerned about carpal tunnel syndrome, then talk to your chiropractor about how to pair the treatments so you can experience true healing and relief. Call or visit us online to schedule an appointment and learn more about osteoarthritis treatment and soft wave therapy at Alan Nathans Family Chiropractic!