UMEM Educational Pearls

Hand elevation test


  • Hand elevation has been known to reproduce the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.


  • This phenomenon prompted the idea of developing a simple hand elevation test to diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome. 


  • To perform: Ask the patient to elevate both arms in the air for one minute. Hands are raised actively and without strain, keeping the elbows and shoulders relatively loose.


  • A positive test reproduces symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. 


  • The hand elevation test has a high sensitivity (75-86%) and specificity (89-98.5%) and may be comparable to or likely better than other provocative tests.


1) Ahn DS. Hand elevation: a new test for carpal tunnel syndrome. Ann Plast Surg. 2001


2) Ma H, Kim I. The diagnostic assessment of hand elevation test in carpal tunnel syndrome. J Korean Neurosurg Soc. 2012 Nov;52(5):472-5.