Carpal tunnel or cervical radiculopathy? Confused.

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I've suffered with shoulder and arm pain for several years. Following excruciating pain in my right shoulder/arm I went for an MRI scan which showed two herniated discs C5/6 C6/7. I was then referred for a nerve conduction study, which showed mild carpal tunnel. My surgeon has said I have a nerve pinched in my neck but also some signs of mild carpal tunnel syndrome, and wants to perform surgery on my wrist because this is the procedure with the least risk. However, I am not convinced my shoulder/upper arm (above the elbow) pain is anything to do with carpal tunnel. I do have three fingers with reduced sensation (not entirely numb) - thumb, index finger, middle finger - but I never experience tingling or pins and needles in these fingers, and it's not any worse at night and I don't display a lot of the symptoms I've read about carpal tunnel. The test on this website only rated me as 10%. So I don't know whether the reduced sensation in my fingers is a result of the two herniated discs in my neck or is actually carpal tunnel syndrome. Very confused, don't know what to do.


Very hard to tell for sure as both of those problems can produce rather similar symptoms. I would guess that the majority of the problem is coming from the neck from those details but there is some possibility that the CTS is a more significant contributor. Your surgeon is probably on the right track in suggesting that the CTS is the easier thing to treat but I would not recommend surgery to the wrist as a trial treatment - it is far better to try it with steroid injection which has the same effect as surgery in the short term and is much safer and more convenient. Injecting your wrist should give you a much better idea of what you might expect from treating the CTS. JB

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