The Tinel Sign: A Historical Perspective

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The Tinel sign is one of the most well-known and widely used clinical diagnostic tools in medicine. Aside from Jules Tinel, after whom the sign is named, several authors have described the famous “tingling” sign seen in regenerating injured nerves. In fact, Tinel was not the first to present the sign to the scientific community. The clinical value and utility of the Tinel sign have remained in question since its introduction; many may misinterpret the sign as a prelude to complete functional recovery of injured nerves, when in fact it only signals the progress of nerve regeneration. Today the Tinel sign is widely associated with the diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome and in the evaluation of regenerating peripherally injured nerves. Knowledge of the history and misconceptions surrounding the sign provides clinicians today with a greater appreciation of current debates on the use of the Tinel sign.

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