When your symptoms suggest nerve damage or dysfunction, the physicians at the University Pain Medicine Center may perform a noninvasive nerve conduction study or NCS to identify the source and the extent of the problem. If you have symptoms such as pain, tingling, numbness, or muscle weakness, call the office in Englewood Cliffs, Somerset, Monroe Township, Freehold, or Clark, New Jersey, or schedule an appointment online for a thorough evaluation.
This noninvasive, outpatient exam is used to measure how quickly nerves conduct electrical signals through the body. NCS is a valuable technique for diagnosing nerve damage. If damage exists, NCS can help a physician find its source.
In preparation for the exam, the patient is positioned comfortably on an examination table. Electrodes are placed on the surface of the skin at various locations. During the exam, mild electrical currents are sent into the body through stimulating electrodes. These signals travel through the target nerve. After these signals have passed through the nerve, they are detected by recording electrodes. This provides a precise measurement of the speed and strength of the nerve’s response to direct stimulation. The physician can use this data to diagnose nerve dysfunction. When the exam is complete, the electrodes are removed. The patient is allowed to go home. Because the exam is noninvasive, the patient will experience no bruising or soreness.
A nerve conduction study (NCS) is a noninvasive procedure that measures how quickly nerves transmit electrical signals. You may need an NCS if you experience symptoms such as:
Your provider uses an NCS to learn whether the nerves transmit electrical signals to the muscles or along the sensory nerve at a normal speed. The results allow them to diagnose or rule out nerve damage and muscle problems, and to find the source and extent of the problem.
Your provider may perform an NCS anywhere on your body, using the procedure to diagnose conditions such as:
An NCS helps identify a range of problems that cause pinched spinal nerves.
During an NCS, your provider places two electrodes on your skin, positioning them directly over the nerve requiring testing. Each electrode connects to a monitor that records nerve activity.
A very mild electrical impulse is sent through one electrode, triggering a nerve signal that travels along the nerve to the other electrode.
As the monitor picks up the signal at the second electrode, the information is evaluated to determine the speed, size, and consistency of the electrical impulse through the nerve.
Your University Pain Medicine Center provider may repeat the same test several times on different nerves, depending on your symptoms. Most patients feel slight discomfort when the electrical impulse is administered, but the pulse only lasts for a second, and you won’t have any ongoing discomfort.
When an NCS shows that your nerves are healthy, your provider may perform a needle electromyogram (EMG) to assess the electrical activity your muscles produce when they’re at rest and when they contract.
This procedure uses needle electrodes that are inserted into the muscle to pick up electrical activity while you relax. Then your provider asks you to tighten the muscle to get a reading while the muscle is active.
If you have nerve symptoms such as pain, tingling, and numbness, call the University Pain Medicine Center, or schedule an appointment online, to learn more about nerve conduction studies.