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Carpal Tunnel Study Clinics

Updated 19 February 2021

Clinical physiologists carry out testing for carpal tunnel syndrome which is a common condition where a nerve is trapped at the wrist causing symptoms of tingling and numbness in the fingers. Small electrical pulses are applied to the skin and readings are taken from nearby nerves. As the pulses travel along the nerves, calculations are made which measure whether their signals are abnormally slow as they travel along. The process is repeated in different places in the hand, arm and wrist. 

From the patient’s point of view, the electrical pulses feel like a sharp tingly/tapping sensation and some may cause brief muscle contractions. Most patients find this electrical stimulation acceptable, and any discomfort is only brief. Nerves conduct at optimum speed when warm so in order for results to be accurate, we need limbs to be warm during testing.

Measurements of conduction velocity (speed) are calculated along with the amplitude (size), morphology (shape) and latency (interval between stimulus and response) of the waveform obtained. These tests specifically target the median nerve at the wrist and give a severity grading to aid the referring clinician in selecting the most appropriate treatment option.

Find out more about carpal tunnel syndrome here.

Important information

Standard cardiac pacemaker
Nerve Conduction Studies use a small electrical current that can affect the function of a cardiac pacemaker. Such appointments may take longer than usual to arrange, and necessitate liaison with cardiology for the pacemaker settings to be modified for the duration of the test.

Defibrillating pacemaker (ICD)
These appointments take longer to arrange and necessitate liaison with cardiology. They are performed by a consultant neurophysiologist in a Tuesday clinic and a cardiology physiologist must be present to modify the pacemaker settings and monitor the patient’s ECG throughout neurophysiology testing.