EBM Consult

Tinel's Test

    • A test to determine if there is entrapment of the median nerve in the carpal tunnel.
    • Have the patient seat with elbow flexed and forearm in full supination.
    • Begin by tapping gently with your finger over the area of the watch band on the median nerve.
    • Continue percussing and move up towards the palmar creases.
    • Return back to the watch band area then move radially towards the palmaris longus tendon.
    • Positive (Abnormal):
      • Tingling paresthesia (i.e. aching and numbness) is felt over the palmar aspect of the hand.
    Diagnostic Accuracy
    • Reports of sensitivity and specificity are vary but most agree this test has a low sensitivity and specificity.
    • One study by Seror P (1987) showed that 63% of patients with electrophysiologically proved carpal tunnel syndrome had a positive Tinel's test.
    • Considerable intra- and inter-examiner differences exist in the range of forces generated by the different Tinel's techniques that are used in clinical practice.
    Editors & Reviewers


    • Anthony J. Busti, MD, PharmD, FNLA, FAHA

    Last Reviewed:  September 2016

    • Stewart DJ, et al. Tinel's sign and the carpal tunnel syndrome. Br Med J 1978;2(6145):1125-6.
    • Seror P. Tinel's sign in the diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome. J Hand Surg Br 1987;12(3):364-5.
    • Bickley LS et al. Bates' Guide to Physical Examination and History Taking. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. 2013;634.