If you’re experiencing shooting pains and numbness and tingling in your neck, lower back, wrist or legs, don’t be surprised if you’re doctor recommends a nerve conduction velocity (NCV) test – also known as a nerve conduction study.
How Nerve Conduction Velocity Tests Work
NCV’s are tests that measure how quickly an electrical impulse moves through your nerve and whether the nerve is, in fact, damaged. Here’s how it works: two electrodes are applied to the skin over your nerve. One stimulates the nerve with a mild electrical impulse, the other records it, while another electrode records the electrical activity. The process is then repeated for each nerve that is being tested.
The speed of the electrical impulse is calculated by measuring the distance between the electrodes and how long it takes for the impulses to travel between them.
As part of the nerve conduction study, another test that may be performed simultaneously is called an electromyography (EMG), which measures the electrical activity in your muscles. An EMG can detect whether the muscle is functioning properly in response to the nerve’s stimulus.
Diagnosing Conditions with Nerve Conduction Velocity Tests
By combining NCV and EMG tests, your physician can better tell whether you’re suffering from a nerve disorder or a muscle disorder and pinpoint the specific disease or condition. These may include:
This is a condition in which your body’s immune system is attacking part of the peripheral nervous system. Symptoms may include weakness or a tingling sensation in your legs.
Carpal tunnel syndrome.
Most patients are familiar with this problem. It develops when the median nerve running from the forearm to the hand is pressed between enlarged tendons or ligaments, causing pain and numbness in the fingers.
Herniated disk disease.
When the cartilage surrounding the disks of your vertebrae deteriorate, the center of each disk is forced outward, placing pressure on a spinal nerve resulting in pain and damage to the nerve.
Chronic peripheral neuropathy and neuropathy.
This is an inflammatory condition usually resulting from diabetes or alcoholism. It causes numbness or a tingling sensation on one or more nerves at the same time.
A compressed nerve can be caused by many different factors, but the most common is a bulging or ruptured spinal disk that is applying pressure to the roots leading to the sciatic nerve causing shooting pain, tingling or numbness from your buttocks all the way down your leg.
This is an inherited neurological condition. It affects the motor and sensory nerves, causing weakness in the foot and lower leg muscles.
An NCV procedure is conducted by a neurologist or pain specialist who specializes in nerve disorder and is often assisted by a technologist. The study may be done on an outpatient basis or as part of a hospital stay, depending on your condition and your doctor’s practices.
After the Procedure
After the non-invasive procedure, you may return to your normal activities, although your physician may advise you to avoid strenuous activities for the remainder of the day and provide you with other instructions, depending again on your situation.
Tarpon Orthopedics specializes in a variety of treatments for both chronic and acute back pain and can help you toward becoming pain-free. For more information, and to schedule a consultation, call (972) 596-1059.