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Nerve Conduction Study

 

Definition

A nerve conduction study (NCS) is a test that measures the speed and strength of electrical activity in a nerve. The test can gather details about the structure and function of both muscle and nerve.

Electromyogram of Shoulder—Used in Conjunction with Nerve Conduction Study

Electromyogram EMG

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

 

Reasons for Test    TOP

A NCS is most often done to:

  • Find out the cause of pain, cramping, numbness, or weakness
  • Find out if nerves are working the right way
  • Tell apart muscle and nerve problems
  • Check if a nerve is recovering from injury
 

Possible Complications    TOP

There are no major problems from this test.

 

What to Expect    TOP

Prior to Test

Before your NCS:

  • Make sure you talk to your doctor about the medicines you are taking..
  • If your doctor tells you, do not smoke cigarettes or drink coffee, tea, and soft drinks for 2-3 hours before the test.
  • Shower the day of your test. Do not use any creams, moisturizers, or powders on your skin.

Description of Test

Your skin will be cleaned. Electrodes will be taped to the skin along the nerves that are being studied. A small stimulus will be used to apply an electric current. It will cause the nerves to activate. The electrodes will measure the current that travels down the nerve pathway. The current will be slower and weaker if your nerve is damaged. Stimulus will be used at different places to find the site of the damage.

Nerve conduction studies are often done along with electromyography (EMG).

After Test    TOP

You will be able to go back to your daily activities after the test is done.

How Long Will It Take?    TOP

About 30-90 minutes

Will It Hurt?    TOP

You will feel mild discomfort from the shocks. It should not be very painful.

Results    TOP

Your doctor will study the details from the test. A report should be ready within a few days.

 

Call Your Doctor    TOP

Call your doctor if you have any questions or concerns after the test.

In case of an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.

RESOURCES:

American Chronic Pain Association
http://www.theacpa.org

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
http://www.ninds.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Neurological Sciences Federation
http://www.cnsfederation.org

Chronic Pain Association of Canada
http://www.chronicpaincanada.com

REFERENCES:

Electrodiagnostic testing. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated October 2007. Accessed May 11, 2016.

Specialized nerve tests: EMG, NCV, and SSEP. North American Spine Society website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated June 16, 2011. Accessed May 11, 2016.

Spinal diagnostics: nerve conduction studies. Cedars-Sinai website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed May 11, 2016.



Last reviewed May 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 6/12/2018

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