hand pain

Arthritis is a condition that can lead to pain, swelling, and stiffness in your joints. It can also damage the cartilage, the tissue that cushions your joints. Carpal tunnel syndrome, on the other hand, refers to a condition that affects the hand and wrist. It happens when the tendons in your wrist become inflamed, which puts pressure on the nerve that runs through your wrist. Both can affect your hands’ ability to perform daily activities, from using your remote control to switch channels to driving and everything in between. 

But how do you know if you have arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome? Read on as your trusted hand specialist from North Florida Hand and Wrist shares some information on this topic:

Symptoms of Arthritis in Hands

Arthritis is a pretty common condition that can cause joint pain and stiffness. It can affect any joint in the body but is most common in the hands. Arthritis symptoms in the hands may include: 

  • pain and stiffness in the joints
  • swelling in the joints
  • reduced range of motion in the joints
  • weakness in the muscles around the joints
  • numbness or tingling in the hands
  • nodes/ bony growths near the affected joints

You must see a seasoned doctor to get a proper diagnosis if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. There are different types of arthritis and the treatment depends on the specific type. Early diagnosis and treatment help prevent further joint damage and pain.

Causes of Arthritis in Hands

One of the common forms of hand arthritis is osteoarthritis. 

It is a degenerative disease that occurs when the cartilage that cushions the ends of your bones starts to break down. This can happen for various reasons, including aging, repetitive use, or an injury. When the cartilage breaks down, it can cause the bones to rub together, which leads to pain and stiffness.

Other forms of arthritis can affect the hands, including rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes the body’s immune system to attack the tissues around the joints. This can result in inflammation, pain, and stiffness. Psoriatic arthritis is a form of arthritis that is often associated with psoriasis, a condition that causes red, scaly patches on the skin.

Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a condition that causes pain, numbness and tingling in the hand and arm. The condition is primarily caused by the compression of the median nerve, which runs through the carpal tunnel – a narrow passageway found in the wrist.

Symptoms of CTS include:

  • Pain in the hand and wrist, which may radiate up the arm
  • Numbness and tingling in hands and fingers
  • Weakness in the hand and fingers
  • Difficulty gripping or holding objects

If you notice the symptoms discussed above, you should see a doctor for a diagnosis. CTS is typically treated with a combination of splinting, physical therapy, and, in severe cases, surgery.

Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Several factors can also increase your risk of developing CTS, including: 

  • The repetitive motion of the wrist, such as typing or using a mouse
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid problems
  • Arthritis

If you have even one of the risk factors above, you may likely develop CTS. However, it is essential to note that many people with CTS have no known risk factors.


If you think you might have arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome, you must see a doctor to get a proper diagnosis. While there are similarities between these two hand conditions, they are different diseases with different treatments. If you have arthritis, there are ways to manage the pain and keep the condition under control. With carpal tunnel syndrome, the goal is to relieve the pressure on the median nerve. If you have any symptoms of either condition, don’t hesitate to see a hand specialist get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. 

North Florida Hand and Wrist offers the services of an experienced hand doctor who can diagnose and provide you with the treatment appropriate for your case. Schedule an appointment with us today!