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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:

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Pinched Nerve

The term "pinched nerve" describes one type of damage or injury to a nerve or set of nerves. The injury may result from compression, constriction, or stretching. Symptoms include numbness, "pins and needles" or burning sensations, and pain radiating outward from the injured area. One of the most common examples of a single compressed nerve is the feeling of having a foot or hand "fall asleep." Pinched nerves can sometimes lead to other conditions such as peripheral neuropathy, carpal tunnel syndrome,...

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  • 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.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: October 02, 2012
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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