Why you Need a Carpal Tunnel Test?
Carpal Tunnel Test is a critical step in getting rid of the pain and symptoms of carpal tunnel. An Accurate carpal tunnel test identifies structures and tissues in need of care. Additionally, proper evaluation and assessments are needed to ensure a diagnosis-based treatment that targets the root-cause of carpal tunnel syndrome. In this section, we will go over procedures and methods used in carpal tunnel test. Also, we will provide you with the simple assessment you can do at home.
Why does the wrist and finger hurt or become numb with carpal tunnel syndrome?
The classic symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include numbness, tingling, pain, burning sensation or weakness in the wrist and hand. However, most patients with carpal tunnel syndrome primarily complain of pain, numbness and burning sensations in the affected thumb, index finger, middle finger and half of the fourth finger.
In severe cases, symptoms of a carpal tunnel syndrome can radiate or shot into the wrist and lower forearm. At times, symptoms may be relieved temporarily by shaking the hand. People who have diabetes or who are pregnant are more likely to get carpal tunnel syndrome. In fact, carpal tunnel syndrome is just as common as is back pain during pregnancy in expecting mothers.
Simply put, carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that leads to the irritation of the nerves that control the function of your wrist, hand, and fingers. Before the nerve enters the hand, it must pass through a canal or channel called the carpal canal or carpal tunnel. In basic terms, this canal is a passageway on the palmar aspect of your wrist. The boundaries of the carpal canal are the tiny bones of the wrist and a tendinous sheet on top called the flexor retinaculum.
Flexor Retinaculum and the Carpal Tunnel Assessment
The flexor retinaculum (better known as the anterior annual ligament or the transverse carpal ligament) arches over the wrist bones. The importance of this canal can never be overstated. The carpal canal is not just a passageway but also a housing and a means of anchoring for the tendons that enable hand, wrist, and finger movements. Nine tendons, two vessels (artery and vein), and a nerve (median nerve) are housed within the carpal canal (carpal tunnel).
Repetitive hand movements, trauma, or prolonged wrist extension can irritate the flexor retinaculum as well as one or more of the tendons that pass through the carpal tunnel. An irritated flexor retinaculum or chronic tendonitis of the wrist can lead to thickening of the tendons or the flexor retinaculum. Hypertrophy refers to a thickened flexor retinaculum or tendons. Hypertrophy of the flexor retinaculum or one of the nine tendons is the leading cause of pain, numbness, or burning sensations in the wrists or fingers.
The carpal tunnel test is incomplete without a proper assessment of your flexor retinaculum. If you suffer from the symptoms mentioned above, the need for proper assessments is critical to your recovery. We will go through some basic carpal tunnel test to assess the vulnerability of the flexor retinaculum as related to carpal tunnel in the coming sections of this page.
What Is the Best Carpal Tunnel Exam You Can Do at Home?
In this section, we will go over some basic carpal tunnel syndrome tests that you can easily do at home. Please read the instructions carefully. Keep in mind that these tests are meant to help you understand your condition better. To accurately diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome, you will need a proper examination by one of our clinicians. Clinicians use the following quick tests to assess entrapment of the median nerve:
- Tinel’s Test
- Phalen’s Test
- Reverse Phalen’s Test
- Pinch Test
Do keep in mind that these tests and maneuvers, which are discussed below, are not meant to help you self-diagnosis a health condition.
Tinel’s Test: A Carpal Tunnel Exam Procedure
Tapping the palmar side of your wrist where the median nerve lies to reproduce the symptoms of carpal tunnel is called test. The result of this test can is considered positive when there is an increase in numbness, tingling sensation, electrical shock or pain in the fingers or the hand.
Phalen’s Test: Another Great Carpal Tunnel Assessment Procedure
The Phalen’s test is an excellent method for evaluating carpal tunnel syndrome. Flexing or bending the wrist to about 90 degrees and holding the position for one minute comprises the Phalen’s test. This maneuver reduces the size of the carpal tunnel or canal, causing a compressive force on the median nerve at the wrist. The result of this test will be positive if there is a reproduction of the symptoms.
Reverse Phalen’s Test, Assesses for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The Reverse Phalen’s test is another great indicator used as a carpal tunnel test. The reverse Phalen’s test involves the extension of the wrist to about 90 degrees. This position should be maintained for one minute. Carpal tunnel syndrome can be suspected if symptoms such as pain, numbness, tingling or burning sensation in the hands or fingers are reproduced. Stretching of the median nerve in healthy individuals is asymptomatic (not painful), but it often irritates a hyper-sensitive median nerve.
Pinch Test is Great Means of Assessing a Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The pinch test can also be done as a carpal tunnel test at home. Pinching and holding an object with the thumb and index finger may show some weakness. In other words, if you have difficulty pinching and holding the object, you may have carpal tunnel syndrome.
What is the best clinical carpal tunnel exam?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition resulting from the irritation or malfunction of the median nerve. The best clinical means of assessing the function of the median nerve is a nerve test.
The nerve conduction study or tests are assessments performed for carpal tunnel patients by a neurologist. Keep in mind that neurologists are not surgeons but specialists who specialize in assessments and treatments of nerve disorders. However, often, a neurologist refers patients for surgery. Carpal tunnel surgery, in our opinion, is one treatment that has failed too often and, as such, should be avoided. But before we talk about the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome, let’s review the basics of the nerve condition test or study that a neurologist performs on suspected carpal tunnel patients.
Nerve conduction tests are variations of electromyography, where two or more self-adhesive electrodes are used to assess the health of the median nerve. The examiner then uses an electrode to pass a few electrical impulses to study the conductivity of the median nerve. If your median nerve is irritated or damaged, the speed through which the current passes will be slower and, as such, a confirmation of your carpal tunnel diagnosis.
What are other structures assessed in a carpal tunnel test?
A carpal tunnel test is incomplete without the proper evaluations of the elbow, shoulder, and, of course, the neck. An impingement syndrome at any of these sites can lead to or mimic a carpal tunnel-like syndrome. It is not uncommon to have a neck pain or upper back problem coupled with carpal tunnel syndrome. Therefore, the neck, shoulder, or cervical has to be checked to look for nerve impingements at other sites. All the abnormalities have to be treated simultaneously to achieve the best clinical result.
The clinical staff of Chiropractic Specialty Centers consists of non-surgical experts when it comes to a carpal tunnel syndrome test and treatment. Visit one of our centers today for an accurate diagnosis through a proven clinical carpal tunnel test today.