The Reliability of Physical Examination for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The goal of this study was to determine the interobserver and intraobserver reliability of static and moving two-point discrimination, Semmes-Weinstein monofilament testing, Tinel’s test, manual motor testing of abductor pollicis brevis, vibration and Phalen’s test in teh diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome. Twelve patients with suspected carpal tunnel syndrome were examined in an outpatient setting. The interobserver reliability was satisfactory for all tests except for Semmes-Weinstein monofilament testing. Intraobserver reliability was also satisfactory for all tests. Static two point discrimination had higher reliability than moving two-pint discrimination. Seven tests for the diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome were reliable in the hands of skilled health care professionals. Hand surgeons and hand therapists examined patients more reliably than occupational health workers.

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