Carpal Tunnel vs. Tendonitis

Do you find that you suffer from wrist pain, numbness, or tingling due to overuse or repetitive movements? You might assume that you’re dealing with carpal tunnel syndrome and think there’s nothing you can really do about it. In reality, however, you might actually be dealing with tendonitis, so it’s important to know what the difference is and how to treat the issue.

What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

carpal tunnel vs tendonits

Image via Pixabay by Septimlu

A narrow passageway surrounded by bones and ligaments, the carpal tunnel sits on the palm side of your hand. When pressure is applied to the median nerve, you might experience carpal tunnel syndrome. This nerve runs from your forearm through the carpal tunnel and gives your hand sensation to your thumb and all fingers except the pinky. It also alerts your nerves to move muscles around the base of your thumb.

Over time, you might notice that your fingers or hand become numb or tingle, almost like you’re feeling an electric shock. The sensation also might travel up your arm, making it difficult to complete tasks such as driving, writing, or using a computer. This usually affects the thumb and all fingers except the pinky finger. You might also experience weakness in your hand, causing you to drop objects, which is due to the deterioration of your thumb’s ability to pinch items.

What Are Some Treatments for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

The treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome depends on the severity of the symptoms, but you typically have both surgical and non-surgical options available. Non-surgical treatments might include the following:

Surgical options might include the following:

How Do You Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

You can minimize the stress your hands might encounter by practicing the following:

What Is Tendonitis?

The tendon is a thick fibrous cord that attaches the muscle to the bone, and its primary function is to hold that muscle to the joint. Whenever you contract your muscle, it moves the tendon and in turn, the tendon pulls the joint to move the entire part of your body. Relaxing your muscle does the opposite.

If your tendon becomes overworked, irritated, or inflamed, it becomes shorter and breaks down. This is called tendonitis. Although you can experience tendonitis from a sudden injury, you’re more likely to develop it from the repetition of a specific movement over time. Two of the common types of tendonitis you might encounter include tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow.

When this occurs, you might experience tenderness and pain right outside the joint, especially when moving the affected area. Although you typically experience tendonitis in any of your tendons, you usually find tendons most affected in the shoulders, wrists, elbows, knees, and heels.

What Are Some Treatments for Tendonitis?

Most signs of tendonitis respond well to self-care measures, but you should consult a doctor if you find that your symptoms persist and cause you to miss out on daily activities. Without proper treatment, tendonitis can lead to tendon rupture, which is a serious injury that requires surgery.

How Can You Prevent Tendonitis?

To reduce the chances of developing tendonitis, keep the following tips in mind when exercising:

You can also get tendonitis from work. The best way to remedy any tendonitis issues at work is to use proper workplace ergonomics. Adjust your chair, desktop, and keyboard to the recommendations based on your height, arm length, and types of typical tasks you perform. Making your desk more ergonomic can protect your tendons and joints from excess stress.

Dealing with carpal tunnel or tendonitis pain can be difficult and inhibit your daily activities. Failing to address these issues can cause further damage and might hinder the treatment process. Thankfully, you have options when it comes to treating these issues so you can get back to leading a pain-free life. If you’re in the Dallas area, don’t wait another minute to contact us at The Hand and Wrist Institute so we can help you feel as good as new.

Dr. John Knight
Dr. John Knight

Dr. Knight is a renowned hand, wrist and upper extremity surgeon with over 25 years of experience. Dr. Knight is a Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon and Fellowship trained. Dr Knight has appeared on CNN, The Doctors TV, Good Morning America, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Forbes, The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, Oxygen network and more.