How To Diagnose Carpal Tunnel Syndrome cover

How To Diagnose Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome causes you to feel a tingling feeling of pins and needles in your fingers. This condition causes significant discomfort, preventing you from executing some of your daily duties. The first step in treating the condition is getting a proper diagnosis from a medical professional. Read on to learn how to diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome.

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that occurs when the median nerve is squeezed in a tight space within the wrist.

The median nerve comes down your forearm, through the carpal tunnel at the wrist crease, and onto the thumb, index and middle fingers, and half of the ring finger. When this nerve experiences a lot of pressure at the wrist, you’ll feel tingling in the mentioned fingers.

The nerve becomes compressed when the surrounding tendons become inflamed, limiting space in the tunnel. As such, you’re likely to notice the following signs and symptoms:

  • Numbness in the affected fingers
  • Tingling sensation (pins and needles) in the fingers
  • Pain in hand and wrist
  • Weak hand grip
  • Loss of sensation in the hand if the condition progresses severely

Women are more likely to develop the disease, as are individuals with diabetes and those with manual jobs with significant wrist involvement.

Therefore, you should seek medical attention if you feel the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome anatomy, the Harley Clinic

How To Diagnose Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

If your carpal tunnel condition progresses without professional intervention, your median nerve can develop permanent damage. As such, you should seek a diagnosis from your doctor.

Your doctor may use one or several methods to diagnose the condition. This is how to diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome.

Medical History

When you go in to see your doctor, they will inquire about your past medical history. This allows the doctor to determine if the carpal tunnel syndrome results from your previous medical conditions.

For instance, carpal tunnel syndrome is more likely to affect individuals suffering from metabolic disorders involving the nerves. In addition, wrist trauma, like fractures and sprains, contributes to the compression of the median nerve in the carpal tunnel.

Furthermore, menopause and pregnancy cause fluid retention in your body. This causes increased pressure in the carpal tunnel, affecting the median nerve.

Physical Examination

After taking your medical history, your doctor checks your hand to determine if your symptoms point to carpal tunnel syndrome. The different physical tests include:

  • Tinsel’s sign: The doctor taps your median nerve to see if you feel a tingling sensation in your fingers.
  • Phalen’s test: This involves pressing the backs of your hands and fingers of both hands together while bending your wrists. If you feel tingliness or numbness after holding the position for 60 seconds, you probably have carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Two-point discrimination: Your doctor conducts this test if they suspect severe carpal tunnel. The doctor touches two points on your hand or finger and asks whether you can feel both contact points distinctly without looking. 


Here, your doctor uses x-ray and ultrasound technology to view the wrist joint more clearly. These imaging methods allow your doctor to see signs of sprains, fractures, arthritis and other physical factors causing carpal tunnel syndrome.


With this test, your doctor inserts electrodes into specific hand muscles to examine electrical activity in your muscles when you flex and relax them. This shows the doctor how your muscles respond to impulses from your nerves.

Nerve Conduction Study

This diagnostic approach also involves tracking and examining electrical activity in the wrist. In this test, the doctor tapes electrodes at specific points on your skin. The results show how electrical impulses move along your median nerve through the carpal tunnel at the wrist.

A significant deviation in impulse across the wrist shows that you may have carpal tunnel syndrome.

Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome At The Harley Clinic

If you’re experiencing problems with your hand and wrist, book a consultation with a hand specialist at The Harley Clinic to discuss options.

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