Nerve conduction testing and electromyography (EMG) are used to examine peripheral nerves to determine whether a nerve is compressed. If the procedure reveals a compressed nerve, a numeric value is assigned to indicate how severely and where it is compressed.
What to Expect
During nerve conduction testing, small electrodes are placed along the nerve pathway. The nerve is then stimulated using a very weak electrical current delivered to one point. This signal is then transmitted along its course and captured by an electrode placed further down the arm or leg. Healthy nerves transmit this signal faster and more strongly than nerves that are suffering from damage.
The EMG portion of the test measures the electrical activity in muscles. Muscles normally receive constant electrical signals from healthy nerves, and in return “broadcast” their own healthy electrical signals. During the EMG portion of the test, the doctor places small needles into the muscles to record the electrical signal from the various muscles in the arm or leg. If a muscle does not receive adequate signals from a sick nerve, it broadcasts signals which indicate that the muscle is confused.
From the nerve conduction test and the EMG, the doctor can correlate which nerves are compressed and the seriousness of the condition. This information can then be used to formulate further treatment plans.
No special patient preparation is required before this test. The neurologist and nurse will be happy to answer any questions you may have before beginning the procedure.