Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is the compression of the median nerve as it runs through the carpal tunnel of the wrist. The compression of this particular nerve causes tingling, burning, numbness and/or sometimes a combination of these sensations, leaving the first three fingers and thumb susceptible to the syndrome. If carpal tunnel syndrome is left untreated, the symptoms may gradually worsen, causing the entire hand to go numb and loss of feeling may occur.
But not all hand and wrist pain is caused by carpal tunnel syndrome. There are several ways to test if the pain, tingling or burning sensations are associated with that of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. These tests include: a three question carpal tunnel syndrome self-test, the Tinel Test, a Phalen Test and a Hand Evaluation Test. In order for these tests to work, you must provoke the symptoms to temporarily flare up. You will need to slowly manipulate the median nerve in the wrist for the tests to be performed properly.
Three Question Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Self Test
Attempting to determine whether or not your symptoms are actually Carpal Tunnel Syndrome may require medical assistance, but by answering the following questions, you may be able to have a better understanding of your symptoms:
1. Do at least two of my fingers tingle or feel numb?
2. Are these sensations stronger when I wake up or at night then they are during the daytime?
3. Can shaking or flicking my hand reduce these symptoms?
If you answered “yes” to at least two of the above questions, your symptoms are more than likely Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
The Tinel Test
The Tinel test is performed to detect irritated nerves. To conduct this test, lightly tap with the index finger of the other hand, over the median nerve of the wrist to elicit the sensation of tingling, numbness or the pain associated with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. If sensations occur, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is probably present in the tested wrist.
Also called the Phalen Maneuver, this test is performed by placing the elbows on a table and putting the backs of your hands together. With hands together, bend the wrists and point fingers down. If numbness, tingling or pain is present in the fingers within a short minute, then Carpal Tunnel Syndrome may be present.
If symptoms appear rather quickly, then the syndrome may be a bit more severe and advanced. Do not remain in this position for a long time, more than a minute, as it can prove false positives in people who do not have CTS.
The Hand Evaluation Test
Lift your hands over your head and hold them there for two minutes. If tingling or numbness occurs during this time, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is probably present. This is the hand evaluation test.
If you have completed the carpal tunnel syndrome self test and believe you have carpal tunnel you should see your doctor. If you are wondering if Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is the pain or tingling, it is advisable to consult a doctor. Discomfort or pain should be assessed by a medical professional before administering any medications or interventions.