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The Diagnosis of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome


Are you convinced that the tingling sensation in your hand is due to carpal tunnel?  Does the pain in your wrist interfere with your daily activities?  If you answered yes to either of these questions, then visit your health care practitioner.  It’s always better to be safe than sorry.  If carpal tunnel is left untreated, nerve and muscle damage may occur.


She’ll review your symptoms carefully with you, including investigating the exact location of your pain.  If you have problems that include pain or tingling in your little finger, she can exclude carpal tunnel immediately.  The little finger is the only digit not served by the median nerve. She may also quiz you about the timing of your symptoms.  This will provide her with some insight into your health problem.  Her next step may 

very well be to test the feelings in your fingers as well as the strength of the muscles in the hand affected.  Pressure exerted on the median nerve at the wrist – through bending, tapping or even simply pressing the nerve – can produce the symptoms in many individuals.


Once she confirms these symptoms, she'll perform two tests before treating your problems.  She’ll probably ask you to undergo an electromyography.  This test measures the tiny electrical discharges your muscles produce.  You’ll have a needle-thin electrode inserted into the muscles suspected of being affected.  The instrument then records the electrical activity in your muscle while it’s resting and while you’re contracting the muscle.  This can determine if any muscle damage has occurred.


The next test your health care practitioner may want to perform is a nerve conduction study.  In this, which is really a variation of the electromyography, two electrodes are taped to your skin.  A small shock is then passed through the median nerve.  This evaluated the speed of the electrical impulses in the passageway.


These two tests are extremely useful in detecting for other conditions that might mimic carpal tunnel syndrome, including a pinched nerve in your neck.  If your health care practitioner believes that your symptoms are due to something other than pressure on your carpal tunnel, she may recommend you see a rheumatologist, neurologist, a neurosurgeon or a hand surgeon for further investigation of the health condition.


Note: Some statements in this article may not be approved by the FDA. This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as professional medical advice.

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