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Carpal Tunnel syndrome Self Test

carpal tunnel syndrome self testCarpal 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.

Phalen Test

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.

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  • Reese

    This was just posted and I did these simple tests on myself. Guess what — I tested positive on the three question carpal tunnel syndrome self test and on the Phalen test. Is that enough to warrant a visit to the doctor? Or can I self-diagnose and see if braces will help?

    • NurseEJ

      Doing treatments based on self-diagnosis is NEVER a good idea. I think the intent of this posting is just to give you some guidelines to tell you when you should get in to see your healthcare provider. Wrist braces probably would not hurt you at all, but it is always best to get the advice of your doctor, too.

    • Michele

      Great advice. The internet can be a great tool but should never be used to diagnosis yourself. You can make yourself crazy trying to guess what every little ache and pain you have might be.

    • Julia

      The fact that you were positive for many of the questions and on the Phalen test just proves that you should get to a doctor sooner than later and consult with him. Posts like these are just meant to make you aware of what is going on with your body and why you might be feeling pain so that you can then take it upon yourself to get professional treatment. No, using a brace shouldn’t do any harm if you don’t need it but you may find out if you go to the doctor that it may be something more severe that needs a more rigorous treatment. Good luck!

  • jem1997

    In my opinion, if you “flunked” any of the tests outlined above – or even if you passed the tests but suspect you have carpal tunnel syndrome – you should be evaluated by your healthcare provider. Having said that, the tests were very easy to follow but I am not sure I did the Tinel test correctly.

    • Michele

      Great advice. There really is no telling if you did the tests correctly or not.

  • PB and Running Shoes

    This is interesting! As someone who shouldn’t put unfortunately loves making self diagnosis, I found that I didn’t pass all of the tests. Guess it’s time for a trip to the doctor.

    • Joy

      I am guilty of doing the same thing. I will run to google, type in my symptoms, and look at the wide array of information (often misinformation) about what may or may not be wrong with me. It is horrible because I am often getting myself worked up about something that is not even wrong with me. Consulting the doctor is best. They are trained to know what symptoms go with what conditions and when there is uncertainty they can order to tests to find out for sure.

  • Chell

    Always remember to be evaluated by a doctor. The internet can be a great resource, but should never replace a trip to the doctor if you are experiencing aches and pains.

    • PB and Running Shoes

      Exactly! I have so many friends who I feel use the internet and blogs as their doctors and never visit an actual doctor for a diagnosis. Internet diagnosing can be scary.

    • Julia

      If everyone used the internet to self diagnose every ailment they thought they might have, everyone would turn into hypochondriacs. If you take enough of these tests, you are bound to have partial symptoms for many ailments and diseases but you most likely do not have all of them! These type of posts are meant to aid you in finding potential warning signs that should trigger you to want to go to the doctor.

    • Danny

      You also can have several variations of the same issues. I have some mild symptoms of carpal tunnel but never too severe. So I only need a brace now and then and nothing more than that,.You can have CT and be better or worse than some others.

  • Michele

    Never heard of the Phalen test before. I really like the idea of self tests even though they can never take the place of a physician.

  • Isabella Vargas

    Interesting that I have never heard of any of these tests. I like that these are options for people to evaluate themselves and give themselves an idea of if they are suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. Granted, following up with a doctor afterwards is probably best because as you stated carpal tunnel is not the only source of pain or discomfort in the hand and wrist area. I was kind of unclear about the Tinel test, but the other two tests were simple to understand and complete.

  • Joy

    I recall doing the Phalen test at my doctor’s office prior to being more carefully evaluated for Carpal Tunnel. I was not aware of the other tests, but it is good that people have options. I would recommend answering the questions you listed in the article and then doing all three of the tests in order to have a clearer idea. Of course, even the slightest bit of speculation that you may be suffering from the condition deserves to be investigated by a doctor.

    • Diamond Grant

      I did not know of these tests either. It goes back to the idea of learning something new everyday. I do agree that a person should not just self-diagnosis and then self-treat. Seeking a doctor is the best and most effective route to go. But if you have an idea that you have carpal tunnel you could begin researching and then present different options to your doctor for further discussion.

  • Diamond Grant

    It is a good idea to do a few tests at home in order to determine whether or not you my have carpal tunnel. Being able to go into your doctor’s office saying you’ve completed one or two of the self-tests with results that point towards the condition demonstrate that you are taking an active role in your own health; something that I think is great. Plus, it prevents you from being in total shock if you indeed are diagnosed by your doctor.

  • Danny

    1. Do at least two of my fingers tingle or feel numb? – yes at times
    2. Are these sensations stronger when I wake up or at night then they are during the daytime? – not really they are stronger after I use the computer or do a lot of writing
    3. Can shaking or flicking my hand reduce these symptoms? – yes that is the fastest way to deal with the occasional flare up

    I don’t know if I have carpal tunnel or just a mild pinched nerve, but thankfully it does not flare up much.

  • T.J.

    I never knew there were ways to test yourself at home for potential carpal tunnel syndrome. It is something I know I deal with from time to time but it has never been bad enough for me to see a doctor about it, I always thought it was something you found out about when you got to hurting, but it is good to know there are ways to test for it before it becomes a major problem.

  • Mara

    Self testing for carpal tunnel syndrome is a good idea, but it of course could never take the place of a doctor or orthopedic surgeon who can officially say, “YES! You have CTS, no doubt in my mind.” But, by being able to tell the signs and symptoms through these tests, I would think that it would offer individuals a way to confirm in their minds that they should visit their doctor and know that they need medical attention or some kind of physical therapy to alleviate the pain and tingling that comes with CTS.
    After taking the self-test, I have self prescribed myself with CTS.

  • Lois

    Ugh, these tests don’t sounds like fun but neither is CTS. I would say each one sounds a little less unpleasant than the other. The hands test is the only one I would want to do but if I held my hands over my head for more than a minute I would feel it in my shoulders more than anywhere else.

    • Ophelia

      Then it sounds like maybe you have some issues with your shoulders Lois? I just tried doing the Phalen Test myself and I felt pretty silly, or maybe I just didn’t read the instructions right. The bottom line is- no one feels like going through the discomfort to identify these issues, but if you’re already feeling the discomfort anyway, what do you have to lose by indentifying the problem?