A nerve conduction study is the measurement of an electronic impulse through a specific nerve. Our bodies use electricity to make muscles contract and lengthen for movement. By measuring the strength and speed of the electrical currents in nerves an orthopedic doctor can determine the health of the nerve. Testing a nerve involves a small volt of electricity that is administered via an electrode. Sometimes the test that measures nerve health is called a Nerve Conduction Velocity test or NCV. At the Denver-Vail Orthopedic P.C., we use an EMG or Electromyogram. The test uses two electrodes that are placed on the skin in a similar way as in an EKG. The small volt of electricity is issued by one and measured by the other. The test does not cause pain or discomfort, although some patients report feeling a slight sensation.
The study is very helpful for diagnosing nerve damage and in helping doctors identify which nerve is damaged and where the damage is. The test is non-invasive and can sometimes help to diagnose other conditions such as misaligned joints.
Most EMG tests take less than 15 minutes from start to finish. The test involves an EMG machine, a screen, and a pair or trio of electrodes. The results show up on the screen and most doctors are able to tell you immediately what the results of the test are. This is valuable for both the patient and the doctor as the next phase of treatment becomes clearer. An EMG can tell the doctor that more comprehensive imagery tests are needed or that there is no nerve damage at all.
Patients are able to return to work or normal activities immediately following the procedure and no recovery time is necessary. There is no sedation given nor is any needed. Because the test is fast and accurate, your appointment is usually less than a half an hour in length. If your injury permits, you can return to work right after the test is complete.