What is the test for the Tinel sign in ulnar neuropathy?

Updated: Jun 08, 2018
  • Author: Charles F Guardia, III, MD; Chief Editor: Nicholas Lorenzo, MD, MHA, CPE  more...
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To test for the Tinel sign, the examiner taps with a reflex hammer over the ulnar nerve in the ulnar groove and a little further distally over the cubital tunnel. The test is considered to yield a positive result if the patient experiences definite paresthesias in the ulnar portion of the hand, especially in the last two digits.

This test is not regarded as highly sensitive, but it is quite specific if performed properly (ie, if the examiner does not hit too hard). With a sufficiently hard tap, many normal individuals will experience paresthesias in the fourth and fifth digits. On the assumption that the complaint is unilateral, the opposite side serves as a good control for this. Sometimes, palpating the nerve in the ulnar groove may produce a similar result.

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