How is carpal tunnel syndrome diagnosed?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is diagnosed through straightforward clinical tests and assessment of patient symptoms, with confirmation typically obtained via a nerve conduction study. This specialized study evaluates the speed and latency of nerve impulses along the median nerve at the wrist, allowing physicians to determine the presence of median nerve compression.

This condition most commonly occurs in middle-aged women, often premenopausal. It can be caused by chronic conditions, such as diabetes, gout, or thyroid disease, even when these conditions are controlled with medications. It is also commonly seen in women in their third trimester of pregnancy. When any of these other conditions are ruled out, the condition is labeled idiopathic, meaning it is caused by an unknown process. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome often coincides with related conditions such as tendinitis in the fingers (trigger finger), or tendinitis in the wrist. For example, DeQuervain’s tendinitis leads to pain in the wrist at the base of the thumb.

Nerve conduction study

The physician places a small electrode on the skin close to your elbow. The electrode transfers a mild electric current through the median nerve from the elbow to your fingers. A delay in the conduction of the current from your elbow to your fingers indicates carpal tunnel syndrome.