Nerve Conduction Study (NCS)
A nerve conduction study is a noninvasive exam that is utilized to measure nerve conduction velocity, which measures the speed of conduction of electrical impulses through the nerves. This examination is typically performed on an outpatient basis and can help determine whether a patient has nerve damage causing their numbness, tingling, and pain symptoms.
Nerve conduction studies are an excellent way to diagnose destroyed and damaged nerves and is an invaluable tool for pain management specialists seeking to find solutions for relief or management of patient symptoms. Often and EMG, or electromyography is performed simultaneously with a nerve conduction study. EMG exams concentrate on identifying muscle functions, and help physicians differentiate such issues from nerve problems; hence, why they are often recommended as a pair of examinations.
About Nerve Conduction Study Procedures
Depending on the nerves to be studied, the patient will be appropriately situated on the examination table to allow the physician, nurse, or technician to access affected body parts. Commonly tested areas include the spine, neck, arms, legs, hands and feet.
Electrodes will be attached through specific parts of the body. Two surface electrode patches are placed over the nerve being tested, with one stimulating the nerve with mild impulses of electricity and the second patch recording it.
A stimulating electrode wand serves as the conductor, sending these mild electric currents through the body, fueling the communication and activities of the two electrode pads.
Each time the stimulator is activated, a signal will travel through the targeted nerve.
Once they pass through the nerve, they are detected by the electrodes, which provide a precise measurement of the strength and speed of each nerve’s response to the direct stimulation.
The resulting data is what allows pain specialists to diagnose nerve dysfunction and better understand how to effective treat it.
After the nerve conduction study has been completed, the electrodes are carefully removed and patients are free to leave.
Risks of Nerve Conduction Studies
Because a nerve conduction study is a noninvasive, simple procedure there are very few associated risks with the examination. Typically, mild skin irritation from the electrode pads or the stimulator gel is the only side effect most patients ever experience. However, patients with pacemakers’ or cardiac defibrillators will need to inform their doctor so they can take special precautions during a nerve conduction study.
What Can a Nerve Conduction Study Diagnose?
Mild, moderate, or severe tingling or numbness – particularly on a constant or chronic level – can indicate serious nerve dysfunction early and are advised for patients who are suspected of having a number of disorders. A few of the common reasons to consider a nerve conduction study include but aren’t limited to:
- Peripheral Nerve Injury
- Pinched Nerves
- Sciatic Nerve Problems
- Herniated Disc Disease
- Guillain-Barre Syndrome – A serious condition where the immune system begins attacking various parts of the peripheral nervous system
- Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease – A neurological hereditary disease affecting sensory and motor nerves primarily affecting the lower leg and foot muscles.
- Carpel Tunnel Syndrome
- Think a Nerve Conduction Study is Right for You?
If you are suffering from numbness, pain, or tingling in your back, neck, hands, feet, or limbs then you may be an ideal candidate for a nerve conduction study. At Comprehensive Pain Specialists we offer a caring and compassionate approach to diagnosing and relieving many types of pain.