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Physicians' Pain and Spine Specialists, PLLC

Electrodiagnostic and Nerve Conduction Study

Electrodiagnostic studies are commonly used technique to test the function of muscle and nerves. These studies help narrow down the possible causes of back or neck pain, numbness/tingling and strength loss. There are usually two parts: one testing nerves (NCS or “nerve conduction studies”) and the other testing muscles (EMG or “electromyography”).

NCS is performed by placing small electrodes on the skin. A stimulator delivers a very small electrical current to your skin near nerves being tested, causing your nerves to fire. The electrical signals produced by nerves and muscles are picked up by the computer, and the information is interpreted by a physician specially trained in electrodiagnostic medicine able to see how fast or slow nerves are functioning. Comparisons are made to averages to see if see the nerves are working properly.

EMG is performed by placing small needles in the muscles of the arm, leg or back to directly evaluate the electrical activity caused by a muscle contraction. Using a specialized computer, the examiner actually sees and hears how your muscles and nerves are working. In addition, the EMG study can help determine if muscles are receiving the proper signal from nerves.

Some commonly diagnosed conditions include:

  • pinched nerves (radiculopathies)
  • peripheral nerve injuries
  • muscle disease.

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