Simple Carpal Tunnel Exam – Just Answer Three Questions

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common repetitive stress problem affecting the wrist and hand.  Symptoms include pain, weakness, and numbness of the fingers.

In the imagination of the public, the term “carpal tunnel syndrome” is now used in an extremely broad way – it includes almost any pattern of tendinitis or overuse affecting the hand or forearm.

carpal tunnel syndrome

But doctors have very specific criteria for diagnosing carpal tunnel syndrome.  Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve gets compressed as it passes through the wrist on its way to the skin and muscles of the thumb-side of your hand.

One of the fancier (and more expensive) tests for carpal tunnel syndrome is electrodiagnosis.  To perform this test, the technician measures the electrical conduction along your median nerve to see if it’s been slowed.

Easier Test for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

There’s a simpler way to diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome.  So simple, in fact, that you can practically diagnose it for yourself.

Doctors developed a three question survey that has been able to pinpoint with a high degree of accuracy those patients with carpal tunnel syndrome.

  1. Do you have tingling in at least two of your first four fingers?
  2. Are your symptoms worse at night or when you awake in the morning?
  3. If you shake your hand vigorously, does it help alleviate the symptoms?

Two or more “YES” answers?  It’s likely you have carpal tunnel syndrome.

In my experience, though carpal tunnel syndrome is fairly common, it’s rare that the symptoms of the hand exist without related involvement of the neck, upper back, shoulder girdle, and elbow.

That’s why I always check these areas whenever I have a patient with repetitive stress issues in the hands.  Treating the fuller picture – with connective tissue therapy, stretching, and joint mobilization – speeds your overall recovery.

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About Ronald Lavine, D.C.

Dr. Lavine has more than thirty years' experience helping patients alleviate pain and restore health using diverse, scientifically-based manual therapy and therapeutic exercise and alignment methods. His website, askdrlavine.com, provides more information about his approach. Please contact him at drlavine@yourbodyofknowledge.com or at 212-400-9663.
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