Weird Medical Tests

5 Weird Medical Tests You Can Try Right Now
All Rights Reserved

Have you ever wondered why your doctor asks you to do odd things like touch your nose during an office visit, then scribbles notes in your chart? It's because there are many physical tests that can tell whether your body is functioning as it should. While we tend to leave it to doctors and medical tests to figure out if something's wrong, we can actually use many of these checks ourselves to determine whether all systems are go. Here, five odd medical tests you can do at home.

Weird medical test #1: The diamond test or "Schamroth's sign"

What it tests for: Cardiovascular, lung, or other diseases

How to do it: Hold up (or down) both index fingers and turn them so the nails are facing each other. Press the nails together and you should be able to see a tiny, narrow, diamond-shaped space between your nails where the nails come flat together but the nail beds don't touch each other.

What it means: If your nails are rounded over and can't press flat together, it's a sign of "clubbing," a thickening of the fingertips that occurs when not enough oxygen is circulating in the bloodstream. Clubbing can be a sign of cardiovascular disease, such as coronary artery disease or heart failure, or of lung disease, like COPD, lung infection, or lung cancer. In some cases, inflammatory bowel disease and cirrhosis of the liver also cause clubbing.

What to do if you fail: Look closely at your fingers for other signs of clubbing. Measure the thickness of your fingertips all the way around; if they're clubbing, you'll notice that they're noticeably thicker above the top knuckle than below it. Clubbing is important to bring to your doctor's attention to monitor your heart and lung health.

Weird medical test #2: Romberg's test

What it tests for: Degenerative diseases (or intoxication)

How to do it: Stand with your feet exactly together, arms by your sides. Now close your eyes and stay that way for a full minute. How do you feel: perfectly balanced, or as if you're swaying or falling forward? It's best to do this test with someone watching you to detect swaying. A variation of this test is to do it standing heel to toe on a straight line.

What it means: This test measures proprioception or positioning, considered the "sixth sense" that tells us where our bodies are in space. Proprioception requires accurate sensory input from our joints and muscles and healthy functioning of the dorsal columns of the spinal cord, which allow us to perceive the position of our limbs both in relation to other parts of our bodies and to the environment. When you can't balance with your eyes closed, it's considered a sign of sensory ataxia, or loss of motor coordination, which can be a sign of diabetic neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, inner ear problems, lumbar spinal stenosis, or another degenerative disease. Romberg's test is also sometimes used as a test of intoxication or drug use.

What to do if you fail: It is possible to fail this test when nothing is wrong with you, but -- because it can also indicate a serious condition -- it's worth discussing with your doctor. If you're also experiencing other symptoms, such as numbness, tingling in your arms or legs, or balance problems, ask your doctor for a referral to a neurologist.

Weird medical test #3: Finger measurement test

What it tests for: Osteoarthritis, and other things. . . .

How to do it: Hold your hands flat and look closely at the lengths of your fingers in relation to each other. Is your index finger shorter than your ring finger?

What it means: A recent study at the University of Nottingham in England found that if a woman's index finger is shorter than her ring finger, she's more than twice as likely as others to develop osteoarthritis of the knee or hip. There's no scientific explanation yet for the connection between finger size and arthritis risk.

Several other studies have found another use for finger measurement: It can be used to guess at penis size. According to studies done in South Korea, if a man's ring finger is significantly longer than his index finger, he's likely to be well endowed, while a short ring finger indicates average to below-average size. Previous studies have shown that a long index finger is an indication of lower testosterone exposure in the womb.

What to do if you fail: Women: In this case, there's no immediate action to take. Just be on the alert for signs of osteoarthritis such as knee, hip, shoulder, or back pain. If you do develop pain and suspect osteoarthritis, you might mention the finger length research to your doctor. Guys: If you notice her looking at your ring finger, distract her by buying her a drink.

Weird medical test #4: The nose test and the heel test

What it tests for: Neurodegenerative disease

How to do it: Hold your arm out, finger extended. Close your eyes and try to touch your nose with your finger. Then do it again with the other hand. You should be able to do this smoothly and accurately. Next, lie down and run the heel of one foot up and down the shin of the opposite extended leg.

What it means: These are two components of basic neurological testing, which evaluates coordination and fine motor movement indicative of the health of the cerebellum, the part of the brain that governs motor movement, coordination, balance, and muscle tone. Failure to do the nose and heel tests accurately can be one sign of a neurodegenerative disease such as multiple sclerosis or a brain tumor or lesion.

What to do if you fail: Try these tests several times before you conclude something's wrong, as many factors -- such as having had a glass of wine -- can affect it. If you regularly fail to get your finger anywhere near your nose, alert your doctor.

Weird medical test #5: The "prayer position" test and the pinky tests

What it tests for: Rheumatoid arthritis

How to do it: Hold your hands in the position for traditional prayer, with the fingers and palms flat and touching. See if your pinky finger stands straight, as it's supposed to.

What it means: If you aren't able to place your hands flat against each other, it suggests that either your wrists don't bend flexibly or your fingers and knuckles aren't straight. This is a possible indicator of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which makes joints swell and stiffen and fingers become gnarled or bent. The inability to extend the little finger is another indicator of RA, because the little finger tends to be the first thing to lose function.

What to do if you fail: If you suspect you're developing rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease, schedule a visit with your doctor. Before you go, survey your family to determine if there's a family history of RA, which often has a genetic basis.

More things your body might be telling you

Curious about other signs and symptoms your body reveals? Check out:

Melanie Haiken

Melanie Haiken discovered how important it is to provide accurate, targeted, usable health information to people facing difficult decisions when she was health editor of Parenting magazine. See full bio

almost 4 years, said...

I think my daughter might have MS. Need help to diagnois this.

about 4 years, said...

This is a very interesting article, I have tried some of the objectives and failed! I will advise my friends of the symptoms, and get them to check their reactions

about 4 years, said...

It gave me some clues as to some systemic problems I am having....and identified what they may be.

about 4 years, said...

I found this article highly enlightening (and fun!). Thank you for publishing it.

over 4 years, said...

Fantastic! I am so happy to have found your page I will send it on to friends & family ! I always heard your nails & hair say a lot about your healt,and you told me I am right...when people on my family said it was nonsense!!

over 4 years, said...

An MD once asked me to hop, and I couldn't, but he refused to tell me what it was indicative of! Can anyone here tell me?

over 4 years, said...

your articles are very informative , for my self as well as the elderly patients I care for.

almost 5 years, said...

My small toe nail is very thick I can hardly cut it. I noticed two thin black spots at the end where clipped which have been there approx a year I do not see a line on top of nail cuticle seems a bit discolored what can this be

over 5 years, said...

Very nicely written and useful article. The tests seem to be based on proven scientific findings and are very easy to perform. They help in self-assessment of one's own general health condition with out the need to consult a doctor for routine check-ups. Dr.Parameswaran, Consulting Engineer.

over 5 years, said...

Fairly common sense type exercises which do make a lot of sense. Apart from proving a level of flexibility. The balancing trick isn't helped by my one debilitation, the chronic osteoarthritis present in both knee joints. But it's always worth a try! To assist concentration, I believe in taking a few deep breaths before and even during such exercises: fresh air never hurt anybody while the profound inhalation does plenty all around the system as well!

over 5 years, said...

Fairly common sense type exercises which do make a lot of sense. Apart from proving a level of flexibility. The balancing trick isn't helped by my one debilitation, the chronic osteoarthritis present in both knee joints. But it's always worth a try! To assist concentration, I believe in taking a few deep breaths before and even during such exercises: fresh air never hurt anybody while the profound inhalation does plenty all around the system as well!

over 5 years, said...

Information helping us monitor our own health is priceless at many levels. Thank you for your clarity and encouragement for personal empowerment.

over 5 years, said...

This is true as well because I can't stand like this for more than 15 seconds as I actually have a congenitally (from birth) malformed blood vessel in the back of my head (cerebral part) which causes me blood pressure issues and I have to use a cane for balance.

over 5 years, said...

I've got this! On my right hand, my index finger is about 1/4 inch shorter than my ring finger! And it's true because my right knee has more severe Osteoarthritis pain than my left knee. I've never heard of this! Very good to know! thanks!

over 5 years, said...

These tests are interesting and always make for fun dinner conversation since everyone then has to try them. The weird thing about #4 is that I had a major stroke 6 years ago that basically wiped out the right side of my brain and I have no problem with either arm (maybe it is because I get practice every time I see my neurologist and she has me do something similar.)

almost 6 years, said...

Not only this article was interesting, clear and useful for me, but it has been used in my appointments at my Neurosurgeon's office. Thanks! I shared it with all my online friends.

almost 6 years, said...

Thanks, well explained and interesting. All these simple test are reliable, true and important. My Neurologist have gone through them and other similar ones. Recommended!

almost 6 years, said...

I am a caregiver for my best friend whom has MS. It's a progressive type. The "touching your nose" and "sliding your heel on opposite shin" test is a good way to gauge her abilities that day. With vertigo that comes and goes through out the day, this helps me gauge how much "help" she may require when we run errands. She is still pretty independant and fiercely stubborn, but she will accept help if she's in a bad way.