This article will go into detail about what nerve conduction is and what should you expect. Has numbness, tingling, or constant pain been plaguing you for no discernible reason lately? If this is the case, a Nerve Conduction Study may be recommended by your neurologist. In a Nerve Conduction Study, the speed at which electrical impulses move through the nerves is measured. Your neurologist will be able to tell if, where, and how much nerve damage has occurred after reviewing the test results.
What is a Nerve Conduction Study
Electromyography (EMG), a test that measures electrical signals produced by muscles when they are at rest versus when they are active, is frequently used in conjunction with nerve conduction studies. Your neurologist will be able to more accurately determine if the problem is a nerve disorder or if it has affected the muscles by conducting these two diagnostic tests. Both the nerves and the muscles may be affected in some cases.
Many conditions can be diagnosed using nerve conduction studies and EMGs, such as:
- Muscular dystrophy
- Myasthenia Gravis
- Peripheral nerve injury
- Sciatic nerve problems
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) aka Lou Gehrig’s disease
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease
- Chronic inflammatory polyneuropathy and neuropathy
- Guillain-Barre syndrome
- Herniated disc disease
Your neurologist will go over all of the possible variables that could influence the results of the Nerve Conduction Study prior to beginning the procedure. Excessive alcohol consumption, hypothyroidism, diabetes, systemic diseases, and neurologic medications such as muscle relaxants, opioids, or psychotropic medications, for example, can all affect the results of a nerve conduction study. A pacemaker may interfere with the electrodes used in the study, so your neurologist will ask if you have one.
There isn’t much you need to do in advance to get ready for your nerve conduction study. You should refrain from applying lotion or oils to your skin for several days before your appointment in order to better prepare for a nerve conduction study. For this reason, it is not recommended to use lotions or oils while wearing electrodes. Your neurologist may also request that you refrain from consuming caffeine for a period of time.
You will be asked to remove any metal objects you may be wearing on the day of your appointment to avoid interference. A medical gown may also be required depending on the location of the area being examined. Additionally, the location of the area being tested will determine whether or not you will be sitting or laying down during the test.
What to expect during a nerve conduction study?
Your doctor will locate the nerve being tested and place two electrodes on your skin after you have been properly prepared and positioned. Jelly or paste can be used to help the electrode adhere to the skin in some cases. The nerve is stimulated by one of these electrodes, and the activity is recorded by the other. You will feel a brief electrical shock as the nerve is activated. While this may be unsettling, it is rarely painful. The entire procedure usually takes between 20 and 30 minutes. The procedure may take a little longer if nerves are tested in multiple locations.
How much does a nerve conduction study cost?
A nerve conduction test can cost anywhere from $700 to $4,000 on average, depending on the number of additional tests required. The majority of tests will cost between $500 and $1,300 per limb.
You should check with your health insurance provider to see if this procedure is covered if deemed medically necessary. Patients are only responsible for the deductible and/or co-payment if they are covered.
When it comes to diagnosing and treating a variety of neurological conditions, nerve conduction studies are an excellent tool. Neurologists may also suggest getting an EMG to determine whether or not the muscles involved in writing a paper are also affected, depending on the specifics of your case. The test itself is quick, minimally invasive, and relatively non-invasive.