A combination of a physician’s findings from a clinical exam — especially an individual’s reporting of symptoms — plus abnormalities discovered through electrodiagnostic testing, will determine an accurate diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential in avoiding permanent damage to the median nerve.
Diagnosis will begin with a doctor learning an individual’s medical history, finding out a person’s symptoms, checking reflexes, pulses, circulation, and evaluating the feeling, strength, and appearance of the wrist, fingers, hands, arms, shoulders, and neck.
Some of the doctor’s neurological or musculoskeletal assessments are to rule out certain disorders that can mimic the symptoms of CTS. Not all hand pain is related to carpal tunnel syndrome, but may be the result of nerve entrapment at the elbow, for example, or a pinched nerve in the neck.
A person with carpal tunnel syndrome will have symptoms that match the distribution of the median nerve (CTS symptoms normally do not, for instance, involve the little finger).
Tests for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Reviewed by: Galal Elsayed, MD
Last reviewed/last updated: October 2023