Other valuable
carpal tunnel information


Carpal tunnel information

There are many other conditions that "mimic" or have the same or similar signs and symptoms as carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). I will go over the most commom ones,pointing out what findings are likely to be present or absent.

Keep in mind that there are "no hard and fast rules" in medicine,and that people perceive pain and symptoms differently.This information is to be used as an educational guide to improve your knowledge about CTS, Not a substitute for medical care.

Carpal tunnel syndrome

Findings Present: Often painful,with numbness and tingling along the median nerve distribution. Most likely will have night symptoms/pain, as well as morning numbness and tingling.Symptoms may radiate up arm from wrist.Most all of the CTS exam will be positive.

Findings Absent: Pain not made worse by stretching or resisted motion of the wrist and fingers.No symptoms on the top-side of hand.Full range of motion of wrist and fingers.May or may not have history of repetitive use.

Carpal tunnel information-continued

Tendonitis

Findings Present: Pain and tenderness usually well localized to the area of involvement (i.e. wrist,top of hand,fingers).Pain may be reproduced by passive stretch (ex.where you stretch fingers back with other hand) or resisted movement.May be local swelling.Usually will have history of repetitive use.

Findings Absent: No numbness and tingling.Usually no night pain or morning numbness.Most or all of the CTS will be negative.

Tennis and/or Golfer's elbow

Findings Present: Localized pain to the bony sides of the elbow joint.(not the tip of the elbow).Pain may travel from elbow to forearm to hand.Pain to elbow with gripping and twisting motions (i.e. turning door knobs,shaking hands).Usually will have history of repetitive use.Pain with resisted middle finger extension.

Findings Absent: No numbness and tingling of hands.CTS should be negative.



carpal tunnel information-continued

Arthritis

Findings Present: Local tenderness of finger and knuckle joints or wrist joints.Sometimes with swelling of affected joint.Pain with motion.Decreased motion.May have morning stiffness and pain.Positive findings of arthritis on xray.

Findings Absent: No numbness and tingling.Most or all of the carpal tunnel exam is negative.

Cubital tunnel syndrome (AKA Ulnar neuritis and ulnar neuropathy) some people may refer to this as "carpal tunnel of the elbow"

Findings Present: Discomfort or painful numbness and tingling along the bottom portion of your forearm down to your ring and little fingers.(same area as when you hit your funny bone)may have history of bending elbow repetitively or forearms leaning on edge of table/desk

Findings Absent: Full range of motion.Pain is not made worse by resisted motion.Usually no night pain.Carpal tunnel exam should be negative



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Cervical disc problems

Findings Present: Pain typically comes from neck,or shoulder blade area,pain may travel down arm to hand.Can have numbness and tingling along same area as CTS-but also can involve top of hand.Decrease reflex of tricep muscle also weakness and pain of entire arm.Usually positive MRI or xray findings.

Findings Absent: CTS exam may be positive or negative.No swelling of hand,neck,or shoulder.Full range of motion of wrist and fingers.May have limited or guarded range of motion of neck.

Diabetic neuropathy

Findings Present: History of uncontrolled or long-standing diabetes. diabetes. Symptoms described as burning more than numbness.May effect ALL the fingers on both hands,may have feet symptoms as well.

Findings Absent: CTS exam may be positive or negative.No increase of symptoms with stretching or resisted movements.

Trigger finger or Trigger thumb

Findings Present: Usually a finger or thumb gives a clicking or locking sensation.Sometimes it will lock in the flexed or bent position while sleeping.Sometimes painful.History of repetitive use of thumb or finger.Sometimes can feel a bump or nodule along the flexor side of the figer/palm area.

Findings Absent: CTS exam negative.No numbness and tingling.

Ganglion cyst

Findings Present: large dime sized bump usually on top of wrist but can be on the other side as well.Initially painful,but then no pain unless bumped.May or may not be due to repetitive motion of the wrist.Does not move with tendons of the hand/fingers.

Findings Absent: CTS exam negative.No numbness,tingling of the fingers.Full range of motion.



As you can see there are some similarities but also some differences in how these conditions present.If you read the article how carpal tunnel is diagnosed,you will obtain some additional carpal tunnel information that should be helpful.

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