carpal tunnel syndrome test

Diagnosis of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

What is the carpal tunnel syndrome test? Read on to learn more about carpal tunnel syndrome, its symptoms, and available treatment options.

 

Table of Contents

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is the compression of the median nerve in the palm. When the median nerve, which travels from the palm to the forearm, is pinched or compressed at the wrist, it triggers the development of carpal tunnel disease.

Carpal tunnel syndrome diagnostic screening techniques have not been well evaluated in large populations. Many Americans suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome and hope for relief, which can only be achieved with a precise diagnosis. Early diagnosis of CTS will lead to effective therapies. Compared to men, women are more likely to suffer from carpal tunnel disease.

What is the Carpal Tunnel?

The narrow, rigid passageway of the bones and ligaments located at the base of the hand is called the carpal tunnel. The tendons and median nerve, which help to control and bend the fingers, are located in the carpal tunnel.
The median nerve transmits sensation to the palm side of the thumb and fingers (excluding the pinky finger). These include:
  • Carpal Bones: The eight irregular small bones that form the wrist and connect the forearm and the hand are called the carpal bones. The eight carpal bones are separated into two rows: proximal and distal. Most of the wrist’s skeletal structure is composed of these bones. 
  • Ligament: The strong bands of fibrous tissue that hold the bones together to articulate the joints properly are called ligaments. The thickening of the transverse carpal ligament can cause carpal tunnel syndrome. 
  • Median Nerve: The median nerve is the arm’s sensory and motor nerve. The median nerve controls movement in the hand, forearm, and wrist. The median nerve also conveys temperature, touch, and pain sensations to the brain from the lower arm and hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome may result from a pinched median nerve.
  • Tendons: The tendons are strong, flexible cord tissues like a rope. Tendons protect muscles from damage by cushioning some of the impacts that movements like running and other activities place on the muscles. Tendon swelling and inflammation can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.

What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Often, it is impossible to pinpoint just one cause of CTS. The ailment is caused by various circumstances that strain the tendons and median nerve in the carpal tunnel. Factors that can cause CTS include injury or trauma to the wrist, such as:

  • Bone fracture
  • Fluid retention during pregnancy
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Use of vibrating hand equipment regularly
  • The formation of a cyst or tumor in the carpal tunnel.

Does Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Only Happen to Office Workers or Factory Workers?

Over the last 20 years, research has been conducted to investigate the association between carpal tunnel syndrome and occupational activities. In adults of working age, carpal tunnel syndrome is a common ailment triggered by physical work activities.1
Office and industry workers frequently use hand-held powered vibrating tools and hold objects awkwardly enough to compress the carpal tunnel. These repetitive hand movements and activities may cause inflammation and median nerve compression.

What Are the Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel symptoms include:

  • Weakness when gripping objects with one or both hands 
  • Pain or numbness in one or both hands 
  • “Pins and needles” feeling in the fingers 
  • Swollen feeling in the fingers 
  • Tingling or burning in the index, thumb, and middle fingers 
  • Pain or numbness that increases at night, interrupting sleep 

Who is at Risk for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome affects women more than men. The risk of having CTS is not limited to those in a specific industry or career. Factors that increase the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome will be detailed below.2

High-Force (hammering)

Using tools that vibrate and consistent hammering can strain the carpal tunnel. These activities are very common for maintenance workers and can cause CTS.

Long-Term Use

Repetitive use of power hand tools and uncomfortable hand placement can irritate and inflame the tendons in the carpal tunnel.

Extreme Wrist Motions

When the wrist is repeatedly overextended, it can worsen carpal tunnel syndrome. How individuals position their wrists while using the keyboard, playing the piano, or typing can cause CTS.

Vibration

The ligaments may become inflamed because of high-frequency vibrations. Carpal tunnel syndrome may result from repeatedly utilizing vibrating hands or power tools.

Heredity

The genetic transmission of physical or mental traits from one generation to the next is known as heredity. Some families have a small carpal tunnel.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy hormones can cause fluid retention, which can squeeze the median nerve. Pregnancy-related carpal tunnel syndrome typically disappears shortly after delivery.

Hemodialysis

CTS is a frequent side effect of long-term dialysis treatment. Due to amyloid buildup, hemodialysis causes carpal tunnel swelling. The amyloid deposits compress the median nerve.3

Wrist Fracture and Dislocation

A wrist fracture occurs when one of the carpal bones or the bigger of the two forearm bones is broken. Broken bone fragments may aggravate tendons or constrain the carpal tunnel, leading to CTS.

Hand or Wrist Deformity

Malformation of the bones in hand can strain the carpal tunnel in the wrist, and this can cause CTS. There are several types of hand and wrist deformities.

Arthritic Diseases

Arthritis is an inflammatory condition that affects one or more joints and causes pain and stiffness. The carpal tunnel can become inflamed and swollen due to various types of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis.

How is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Diagnosed?

Doctors combine the individual’s medical history, physical examinations, and carpal tunnel syndrome tests. The following are methods doctors use in diagnosing carpal tunnel syndrome:

Tinel’s Test

The median nerve in the individual’s wrist is tapped or compressed during the Tinel carpal tunnel syndrome test. When the fingers tingle or a shock-like sensation follows, the test is considered positive. During the evaluation, the carpal tunnel doctor will ask the individual about their overall health and medical background.

Wrist Flexion Test (or Phalen test)

The patient will be instructed to hold their forearms straight during the Phalen test by pointing their fingers downward and squeezing their palms together. A person will be diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome if they have one or more symptoms, such as increasing numbness in their fingers, within a minute. Doctors may sometimes instruct individuals to attempt motions that trigger carpal tunnel symptoms.

X-rays

X-rays produce images of thick structures like bone. If a person complains of wrist discomfort, the doctor might recommend getting an X-ray to rule out other potential causes of the symptoms. An X-ray cannot show a compression or swollen median nerve.

Electromyography (EMG) and Nerve Conduction Studies

EMG and NCS electrodiagnostic testing aid in carpal tunnel diagnosis. An EMG measures the electrical activity of muscles. EMG readings can determine the nerve or muscle damage. Electrodes are attached to the wrist and hand during a nerve conduction investigation.
With brief electric shocks, the rate at which nerve impulses are transmitted is gauged. This carpal syndrome test measures the signals moving through your hand and arm’s nerves. The test can identify when a nerve is not adequately conveying its signals.

Does Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Have a Long Recovery?

The length of recovery depends on the carpal tunnel symptom treatment method used. After having carpal tunnel release surgery, recovery can take weeks or even months. Recovery may take even longer if the nerve has been compressed for a long period.

What is the Success Rate for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Surgery?

Surgery is typically only considered if alternative therapies like splints or corticosteroid injections fail to control the symptoms. The carpal tunnel surgery success rate is between 75% and 90%, according to long-term research that has already been conducted.4

How Can I Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Prevention of carpal tunnel syndrome might be challenging. It can be difficult to prevent CTS because so many activities in a person’s daily life can trigger it. The following can help decrease some carpal tunnel risk factors:
  • When using hand tools, keep the wrist straight.
  • Avoid curling and over-extending the wrists.
  • Take rests when performing hard, repetitive hand tasks that compress the median nerve
  • Observe and treat medical issues related to carpal tunnel syndrome as necessary.

What is the Long-Term Outlook for Carpal Tunnel Surgery?

carpal tunnel syndrome test
After carpal tunnel surgery, the symptoms go away. However, the long-term effects have not been studied as fully as the immediate effects. Few researchers have looked at more than two years of follow-up.
Although studies have consistently indicated symptom remission and functional improvement after carpal tunnel release surgery. A favorable or excellent overall outcome was recorded by 87% of individuals who had CTR surgery, and it took an average of 9.8 months for symptoms to improve fully.

Get Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome at J. Flowers Health Institute

Consult J. Flowers Health Institute experts if you or a loved one has symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. With an unwavering focus on whole-person health and wellness, J. Flowers Health Institute provides the future of healthcare. Experts use the most recent methods and therapies at JflowersHealth to assist you in managing and curing your carpal tunnel syndrome.

We look forward to helping you mitigate the impact of carpal tunnel syndrome and regain autonomy over your own life once more.