Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a common condition that affects many people. The process by which it is diagnosed involves a careful history and examination that includes an orthopedic and neurological exam, special sensory tests (including vibrometry or neurometry), and sometimes special tests such as X-Ray, MRI, EMG/NCV. So, let’s discuss this process…
HISTORY: When you visit a chiropractic office for the first time, you will be asked to complete some routine paper work that includes history-based information such as the mechanism of injury (how did CTS start), the onset (when the symptoms started), pain-related issues (factors that increase or decrease the pain/symptoms), quality of symptoms (numb, tingling, achy, pins/needles), radiation of symptoms and location, severity (right now, on average past week, at best and at worst), timing of the symptoms (worse at night, in the morning, after certain work or home activities), and past history information. You will also be asked about your current health status such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, thyroid disease, arthritis, and any other health-related conditions that may be present. The office will also do an inventory of your systems (cardiovascular-heart, pulmonary-lungs, and genito-urinary), skin, musculoskeletal (muscles, bones, and joints), and neurological systems. This is important as they can all contribute to CTS.
EXAMINATION: The routine exam for CTS patients includes a careful evaluation of not only the hand and wrist, but also all structure from the neck down the arm, including the shoulder and elbow. That’s because a pinch of the nerve at any location from the neck down can contribute to CTS symptoms and treatment at these locations is often needed for a satisfying result. Categories of examination include:
The bottom line, make sure your healthcare provider is thorough and checks everything from the neck to the hand as often, many other conditions above the wrist frequently contributes to CTS symptoms.