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Arthritis or carpal tunnel?

Hello! I am a 33 y/o female. For years I worked as a barista and developed some pain issues in my right wrist. When this occurred I would use an over the counter brace which always corrected the problem. I haven't worked in that field for over a year and haven't had any issues since.

Recently, I've started driving ride-sharing for a living which requires me to grip a steering wheel all day. About a month ago, I noticed my wrist and thumb were starting to hurt again. To the point where I can't grip or hold on to anything with my right hand. The OTC wrist brace wouldn't help either. The only relief I could get was to literally wrap my thumb against my palm with an ace bandage, making it completely immobile.

For the last few days I've noticed that when I wake up in the morning, my thumb is totally numb. This morning my index and middle finger were also tingly along with my thumb being numb. I had horrible pain in my bottom knuckle on my thumb, and now the knuckles in my middle and ring finger are hurting.

I'm sorry for such a long post, but I'm really hoping someone might have some advice. I'm a single mother and I don't have insurance so I can't afford to go to a doctor. Are there any home remedies that might help? Any advice that I could get would be greatly appreciated. I'm pretty desperate. Thank you so much for reading if you made it this far! :)

3 Responses
Avatar universal
Your clinical presentation sounds like carpal tunnel syndrome. This manifests as pain and paresthesias in the distribution of the median nerve, which includes the thumb, index, and middle fingers. Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms usually occur while holding an object or gripping a steering wheel for extended periods of time. They also tend to occur at night and may wake you during the night, or you may notice the numbness when you wake up in the morning.

Avoid activities that make symptoms worse. Take more frequent breaks to rest your hands, or alternate the hands you use for stressful repetitive motions. Apply cold packs to reduce swelling. Other treatment options include wrist splinting, medications (NSAIDs or corticosteroids), and surgery.
Avatar universal
Some home remedies: https://www.healthline.com/health/home-remedies-for-carpal-tunnel
Avatar universal
Hello CHIN_C hits the nail on the head here.  The most effective treatment for me was splinting where I wore the splints overnight and slept with my hands above my head.  It was annoying and difficult to adapt to, but it helped.  I eventually had surgery on one wrist and was not happy with the results personally.  Also, as far as whether it's carpal tunnel or arthritis, there's the small possibility that it could be  both.  My carpal tunnel started early and was idiopathic.  There was no reason for the damage to have occurred in the first place, just things that irritated it.  Turned out I have seronegative RA which can cause idiopathic carpal tunnel syndrome.  Just food for thought.  
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