Neurologists rely on various tests and protocols to help diagnose and treat neurological disorders. If your doctor orders an electromyography or nerve conduction study, you may ask, “What is EMG NCV testing, and why is it useful?”
What is EMG NCV Testing?
This testing protocol consists of two parts. EMG measures neuromuscular abnormalities. The doctor places electrodes on the patient’s skin before inserting fine needles into a muscle through the skin. The patient will move a body part according to the doctor’s instructions. At the same time, electrodes record the muscle’s activity during periods of rest, moderate contraction, and forceful contraction, which an oscilloscope machine translates into wave patterns and represents on a monitor. The electrodes may also produce a sound recording that indicates muscle fiber activation while the patient moves. The test determines whether or not the muscles are responding correctly to nerve signals.
NCV testing measures how quickly electrical impulses move through nerves. During the test, a doctor places two electrodes on the skin over a specific body part. One electrode stimulates the underlying nerve. The other electrode records the speed at which electrical impulses travel between the electrodes. The doctor calculates the velocity according to the distance between the electrodes’ placement. Patients may expect to experience a sensation similar to that of a static electricity shock during this test.
Why Are These Tests Helpful?
Patients can present with various symptoms that prompt neurologists to perform EMG and NCV tests, including tingling sensations, numbness, paralysis, spasms, and cramps. Nerve and muscle deficiencies have complex and unique causes but may lead to similar symptoms. A neurologist can use the results from these tests to determine if a patient’s symptoms originate in the muscles, the nerves, or both. Knowing the genesis of a problem can help the neurologist formulate and apply the most effective treatment methods.
What Conditions Does EMG NCV Testing Help Diagnose?
A neurologist uses the results of these tests to confirm or rule out a potential diagnosis or expand the picture of what may be causing a patient’s dysfunction. The tests can lead to the diagnosis of a wide range of neurological conditions, including:
Damage to the nerves in the extremities, causing weakness, tingling or burning sensations, pain, and numbness
A progressive disease causing muscle deterioration
An autoimmune disease that attacks the protective sheath covering the nerve fibers and disrupts communication between the brain and other body parts
A neuromuscular disorder leading to profound muscle weakness and fatigue
Examples include herniated disc, spinal stenosis, and sciatic nerve inflammation
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Compression of the nerve running from the forearm to the hand, causing weak grip, pain, tingling and numbness
These highly accurate tests can also detect and address neurological complications following accidents that cause head, neck, and spine injuries. Undergoing these tests as soon as possible after these injuries occur can help lower the chances that a patient will experience long-term or permanent neurological damage.
Neurologists may also repeat EMG or NCV tests to determine if patients are responding to a treatment plan or if a new approach is warranted.
Where Can You Find a Testing Site?
Medical Clinics of New York City has testing sites around the city to address patient’s neurological concerns quickly and efficiently. A team of knowledgeable, compassionate, and experienced doctors can accommodate you whether you need an EMG test in NYC or EMG/NCV testing in Brooklyn, NY. EMG and NCV tests typically occur during the same visit and take up to 90 minutes.
Contact one of our offices near you to schedule an appointment to discuss your symptoms with a caring neurologist at Medical Clinics of New York City.