The human body features millions of neurons that report sensations from the skin and organs, in addition to 12 pairs of cranial nerves and another 31 pairs of spinal nerves. When one or more of these nerves are damaged or compressed, serious pain and other symptoms can set in. However, there are numerous other illnesses that cause the same symptoms as nerve damage. It is crucial to rule out other problems before investing in treatments for nerve damage if another cause lies behind your inflammation or chronic pain. Nerve testing is a quick and easy way to learn about the health of your muscles and nerves.
There is a wide range of symptoms that may lead us to believe a patient is experiencing nerve problems. Just a small selection of this issues include:
Electromyography (EMG) is a form of testing that measures electrical impulses sent by muscles to determine if there is an issue with them. Each muscle group produces a certain signal when intact and healthy so variations on this signal can indicate exactly where a problem originates. This type of nerve testing can indicate issues with diseases that damage muscle tissue or any type of nerve or spinal problem. A very small needle is inserted just under the skin, with local anesthesia in most cases, to accurately capture the electrical impulses. You just contract and relax certain muscles as our technician advises so they can capture the information needed to make a diagnosis. With careful testing, the EMG can help the doctor determine if your problem lies with the muscle tissue itself or in the nerves that control them.
Another common test we use for patients with signs of potential nerve damage is the nerve conduction velocity (NCV) diagnostic. This test sends electricity through the nerves and reads the results at the end to determine what happens to the signal as it travels. One electrode sends the signal and while another receives the readings. We often pair both types of testing together because they provide complementary data about the state of a patient’s nerves and muscles. In most disorders causing generalized pain and fatigue, it can be hard to pinpoint an exact cause. Powerful diagnostic tools like NCV and EMG tests aid us in discovering hidden causes of these symptoms.
While small needles are involved for the EMG, there’s no recovery period or need for anesthetics that leave you drowsy for the rest of the day with nerve testing. The test can take up to an hour and a half but could be done in as little as 20 minutes. There are no side effects to worry about after the test Is complete. EMG testing is slightly painful due to the electric shocks that are delivered, but you can take breaks if needed. There may be some tingling and soreness in the tested muscles for about an hour afterwards. The testing should only be avoided by people that rely on pacemakers and that use blood thinners or medications affecting the nervous system.
Unlike blood testing and even many allergy tests, the EMG and NCV tests both produce instant results. The doctor will interpret the results as they are displayed on the screen. Getting started down the road to recovery can sometimes begin as soon as the test is completed. For advanced nerve testing in Goose Creek and the Charleston area, call us at (843) 258-5401 to set up a free consultation!