How is carpal tunnel syndrome diagnosed?

First, your doctor will discuss your symptoms and medical history and examine you. Next, tests are performed, which may include:

  • Tinel’s sign. In this test, the physician taps over the median nerve at the wrist to see if it produces a tingling sensation in the fingers.
  • Wrist flexion test (or Phalen test). In this test, the patient rests his or her elbows on a table and allows the wrist to fall forward freely. Individuals with carpal tunnel syndrome will experience numbness and tingling in the fingers within 60 seconds. The more quickly symptoms appear, the more severe the carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • X-rays. X-rays of the wrist may be ordered if there is limited wrist motion, or evidence of arthritis or trauma.
  • Electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction studies. These studies determine how well the median nerve itself is working and how well it controls muscle movement.

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