A 50-year-old female asked:
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can emg determine if carpal tunnel cause of hand pain? mri shows cervical stenosis. emg only done on arm, confirmed carp tunl, not done on neck?

6 doctor answers
Dr. Jeff Budoff
Specializes in Orthopedic Surgery
No: Your best bet is a good exam done by a hand surgeon, ie. A specialist in this area. Mris of the neck may have nothing to do with your hand pain. Nerve studies are not 'the answer', only a piece of the puzzle.
Answered on Dec 3, 2012
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Dr. Bennett Machanic
51 years experience Neurology
Correlation: An EMG study is used to confirm presence or absence of a problem and help your doctor determine why symptoms exist. Although the cervical stenosis might cause a nerve compression in the neck with referred pain to arm, the presence of carpal tunnel does correlate with hand pain far better. Sounds like some communication, with the doctor who did the emg, would help.
Answered on Jun 10, 2014
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Dr. Todd Guyette
Specializes in Hand Surgery
Yes: Although the electrodiagnostic testing was done only on the arm, they do send signals to the neck to see if there is any cervical contribution.
Answered on Jan 31, 2013
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Dr. Kenneth Smith
31 years experience Internal Medicine
Median nerve: Emg very diagnostic if indicates isolated compromise median nerve across carpal tunnel. Not dismissing cervical disease if arriving at that level entire nerve would show compromise both above and below carpal tunnel.
Answered on Jan 31, 2013
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Dr. Michael Fitzmaurice
20 years experience Hand Surgery
Yes: The nerve study can determine if there is a compression at the neck or further down such as the wrist in carpal tunnel syndrome. This is only one portion of the diagnostic workup and should include a full exam by a hand surgeon. If there are 2 issues then release of the carpal tunnel is generally regarded as the first line treatment as recently evident in an article published this month.
Answered on May 3, 2019
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Dr. Julian Bragg
16 years experience Neurology
Depends on muscles: One major use of an EMG is to determine where nerve damage is occurring. If two nerves that come from the same spinal roots, one of which passes through the carpal tunnel and the other of which does not, show different degrees of damage, it argues for compression at the carpal tunnel itself. This does not rule out superimposed compression at the neck, however (a "double crush").
Answered on Jun 10, 2014

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