From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Assessing Nerve Conduction Studies In Carpal Tunnel Patients

Do nerve conduction studies help assess potential carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS)?  A recent study indicates that they do.


The study, funded by the Mayo Foundation, divided the 84 participants into “definite CTS” and “possible CTS” categories based on responses to questions from a Hand Symptom Questionnaire and the results of clinical testing.  Seventy eight percent of the “definite CTS” candidates had abnormal nerve conduction studies while only 47 percent of “possible CTS” candidates had abnormal nerve conduction studies.  Patients who were older, heavier, and had more clinical features of CTS were more likely to have an abnormal nerve conduction studies.

Those participants with an abnormal nerve conduction study were subseqently divided into two treatment groups — non-surgical and surgical.  Symptoms were reported as improved/resolved among 41 percent of those who received non-surgical treatment and improved/resolved among 81 percent of the surgical treatment group.

The authors conclude that nerve conduction studies yield valuable, independent information when assessing suspected CTS in patients with few or atypical clinical symptoms.

Witt JC, Hentz JG, Stevens JC. “Carpal Tunnel Syndrome With Normal Nerve Conduction Studies.” Muscle and Nerve  29: 515-522, 2004.

This article originally appeared in The Ergonomics Report™ on 2004-11-09.