Good Hand Health Tips
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Tests
Can I figure out if I have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Yes, several home-tests do exist.
The pain and numbness in your hands and wrists might actually be something other than Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. A health care provider can perform the other differential diagnostic tests explained below.
Where would I feel symptoms during a Carpal Tunnel test if I have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Each carpal tunnel test usually produces symptoms in the thumb, index, middle, and half of the ring finger if you have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. See the red zone in the graphic.
What self-tests can I do now to test for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Reverse Phalen’s Test*
Firmly press your palms together at heart height with your fingers pointing up. Move your hands down towards your waist while maintaining the pressure. After 30-60 seconds, those with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome often feel a tingling in the thumb, index, middle and half of the ring finger.
Phalen’s Test aka Phalen’s Maneuver
Firmly press the backs of your hands together at heart height with your fingers pointing down. This carpal tunnel test also puts traction and compression on the median nerve. After 30-60 seconds, those with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome will often feel a reproduction of their symptoms.
This is a well-known carpal tunnel test. Tap on the creases of the palm side of your wrist. People with moderate to severe Carpal Tunnel Syndrome will have a severe electric shock type feeling or sensations into the red zone shown in the above graphic.
* According to a 1994 study, the Reverse Phalen’s Test results in a significantly higher intracarpal canal hydrostatic pressure as compared to a traditional Phalen’s Test.
What if the self-test is positive?
You have choices.
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What does a doctor offer?
A doctor will rule-out other differential diagnoses that mimic Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, e.g., thoracic outlet syndrome, cervical compression from neck, shoulder or elbow, and myofascial pain syndromes due to trigger points. The doctor will also identify other causes of compression at the carpal canal, like a cyst, bone spurs, fractures, or arthritic conditions. About 25% of patients with suspected work-related cumulative trauma or repetitive stress disorders have evidence of other conditions that resemble, but are not, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
What can I expect from a medical examination?
A professional will take a medical history, perform a physical examination, and possibly order laboratory tests. When discussing surgery, a doctor may order electro-diagnostic tests. The following should also be discussed with your health care provider.
- Do you have numbness and tingling in your hands and wrist?
- Do you have prior injuries, work related stressors, or any underlying medical disorder, like diabetes?
- How severe are your Carpal Tunnel Syndrome symptoms? Sharp pain. Dull ache. No strength. Little dexterity.
- When do your symptoms appear? All the time. Occasionally yet daily. Only when performing specific tasks. Only when sleeping.
- Do you have prior injuries, work related stressors, or any underlying medical disorders, like diabetes?
Is there another carpal tunnel test to determine if I have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
In addition to the Reverse Phalen’s test, Phalen’s Test and the Tinel test, the doctor could perform other provocative tests like Median Nerve Compression (Durkan’s test) and grip strength tests. An electro-diagnostic test may also be prescribed. See if your daily tasks put you at risk of developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome by taking our at home risk factors self-assessment test.
What if I am told I need an electrodiagnostic test?
An electrodiagnostic test analyzes the electric waves of nerves and muscles. This test is used only to confirm an existing diagnosis of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. This test is NOT ALWAYS NEEDED. It can be painful and it is expensive.
What type of specialist performs an electrodiagnostic test?
Neurologists and Physiatrists perform these this carpal tunnel test. To find a certified doctor in your state go to AAnem.org.
What happens during an EMG test?
Small needles are placed into the muscles which record electrical activity coming from the muscle. Based on the rate in which an impulse is measured crossing the carpal canal, the doctor can tell if there is a slowing of that nerve function or if there is reduced function at that nerve based on statistical norms.
My doctor diagnosed Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. What now?
Breathe! The top recommendation is REST! Then reduce the inflammation and wear a wrist brace at night.
Your doctor may recommend steroid injections, physical or occupational therapy, anti-inflammatory medicines, or surgery.
Carpal Tunnel Coaching recommends appropriate and effective exercises, easy to add behavioral modifications, and personally tested ergonomic tools.
In just four weeks with Carpal Tunnel Coaching’s online video program, you could live the pain-free life you want.
Coach Cathy’s personal story about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome testing
The world of diagnosis, testing and treatment felt like a maze to Coach Cathy when her hands hurt too much to work. Her arduous 18-month journey to recovery is all shared with you so you don’t have to suffer so long.