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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Nerve Tests

Topic Overview

Carpal tunnel syndrome can usually be diagnosed with a medical history and a physical exam. But sometimes nerve tests are used to check median nerve function when symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are present. The nerve conduction velocity (NCV) test measures the speed of electricity as it moves through a nerve. An electromyogram (EMG) records the electrical activity of nerves and muscles, which shows nerve or muscle disorders.

If you have carpal tunnel symptoms, nerve tests may or may not be appropriate for you. Before you have nerve tests, think about the following:

  • Nerve tests aren't helpful in every case. A few people with carpal tunnel syndrome have normal nerve test results.
  • When work-related carpal tunnel syndrome is evaluated, nerve tests are usually done.
  • Nerve tests are often completed before surgery is done. Nerve tests may confirm a diagnosis and thus prevent unneeded surgery. If there is nerve damage, surgery may be considered to prevent permanent damage.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Herbert von Schroeder, MD, MSc, FRCSC - Hand and Microvascular Surgery
Last Revised October 2, 2012

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