Diagnosis of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. An exam will be done. It will focus on looking for signs of nerve problems in your wrists and hands.

These tests may also be done:

  • Nerve conduction study—to measure the speed and strength of electrical activity in the median nerve. A small shock is passed through the nerve to find out whether impulses are slowed in the carpal tunnel.
  • Electromyogram (EMG)—to measure and records the electrical activity of a muscle. They give off signals that are not normal when the nerves attached to them are not working the right way.
  • Ultrasound —to take images to look for problems with the median nerve


American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). Clinical Practice Guideline on the Treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. AAOS 2016 Feb.
Carpal tunnel syndrome. American Society for Surgery of the Hand website. Available at: Published 2015. Accessed November 20, 2019.
Carpal tunnel syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated June 24, 2019. Accessed November 20, 2019.
Carpal tunnel syndrome fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at:
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Updated August 13, 2019. Accessed November 20, 2019.
Last reviewed September 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board James P. Cornell, MD