You might think that the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are unmistakable, but they can often mimic other conditions. An accurate diagnosis from a carpal tunnel specialist is essential for proper treatment.

The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome can keep you from doing your daily activities because of pain and weakness in your hand. Yet, while you experience many symptoms in your hand, the condition begins in your wrist. Reach out to a hand specialist today for help diagnosing carpal tunnel syndrome in Richmond.

What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

The structure and function of your hand and wrist are complex. A combination of bone, tendon, ligament, muscle, and joints is required to enjoy the multiple movements and functions you use your hand for every day.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition caused by compression of the median nerve as it travels from your lower arm through a narrow passageway in the wrist and onto your hand. That narrow passageway is called the carpal tunnel. When the nerve is compressed, it leads to symptoms such as numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hands and fingers, particularly targeting the thumb, index, middle, and part of the ring finger.

How Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Diagnosed?

Accurate diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome in Richmond is essential to receiving the right treatment protocol. Without the proper treatment, carpal tunnel can become chronic and potentially severe enough to require surgery to relieve pain and improve function. Your hand surgeon will consider the following factors to diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome.

Medical History Review

Carpal tunnel syndrome is often associated with repetitive hand and wrist movements, like typing or chopping. Individuals who have had injuries to their wrists or have health conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes have a higher risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.

Symptoms typically begin with intermittent pain and numbness in the areas of the hand where the median nerve is distributed. Weeks and months can pass before symptoms become progressively worse. Eventually, muscle weakness prevents proper hand function.

Physical Examination

During a physical examination, your hand and wrist specialist may perform specific tests and assessments to determine whether your median nerve is compressed. For example, Phelan’s maneuver requires you to flex your wrist by pressing the backs of your hands together for about 60 seconds. If you are positive for the condition, you may develop tingling or numbness in the fingers.

The hand specialist will also perform sensory examinations, looking for areas where sensation is decreased or where you experience numbness, and examine the strength of the muscles in your hand.

Lab Tests

Lab testing is not generally used to diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome in Richmond. However, since it is associated with Type 2 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, your physician may order lab testing to look for underlying medical conditions associated with carpal tunnel syndrome.


X-rays may be ordered to rule out other conditions. An X-ray does not typically show a narrowed carpal tunnel, but it can be used to rule out other causes of wrist and hand pain, such as arthritis and recent trauma.

Nerve Conduction Studies

Your hand specialist may order an electromyography or nerve conduction study. Electromyography measures damage to the muscles controlled by the median nerve and can also rule out other conditions.

A nerve conduction study can demonstrate compression on the median nerve by passing electrical impulses. When these impulses are slowed, it means the median nerve is compressed. This test is typically used to diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome and rule out other conditions.

Why Is a Hand Specialist Crucial to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatment?

Hand specialists have expertise and knowledge in diagnosing and managing conditions affecting the hand and wrist. This extensive knowledge of the complex anatomy and function of the hand allows them to accurately diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome using targeted physical examinations and advanced diagnostic testing.

An accurate diagnosis is necessary to tailor a comprehensive treatment plan based on your condition. Treatment can include conservative methods such as splinting, physical therapy, and medications. When these are ineffective, you may require minimally invasive procedures and surgery.

Early intervention and treatment prevent the progression of symptoms and reduce the risk of permanent nerve damage. Hand specialists are crucial to receiving the most effective and appropriate care to improve hand function and reduce pain.

Learn More About Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Diagnosis from a Richmond Specialist

Carpal tunnel syndrome can cause pain, discomfort, and muscle weakness in the affected hand. Yet, you cannot rely on these symptoms since they can often be attributed to other conditions.

We encourage you to call Comprehensive Hand Surgery Center today and schedule a consultation to learn more about diagnosing carpal tunnel syndrome in Richmond. Our compassionate hand specialist, Dr. David Galpern, could get you the treatment you need and reduce the potential for long-term chronic pain.


Comprehensive Hand Surgery
Phone(804) 506-3050
2819 North Parham Road Richmond Suite 100, VA 23294 Get Directions