Unearthing the Underlying Cause of Your Pain
Although everyone feels pain and weakness from time to time, some cases certainly run far deeper than others. When these symptoms come about for no apparent reason, finding their source becomes crucial to beginning the healing process. Numerous treatments are available, but choosing the most effective one requires in-depth assessments on a case-by-case basis. For many, EMG or NCV testing is the first step in determining the best course of action for treating and managing pain.
EMG Testing Explained
EMG, or electromyography, works in much the same way as NCV testing, but this procedure is a bit more invasive. Electrodes are affixed to the skin in this assessment as well. As opposed to sending impulses through the surface of the skin, though, these electrodes have tiny needles attached to them. Mild shocks are sent through the needles directly into muscles being tested.
Because shocks are delivered into your muscles, EMG testing is often slightly more uncomfortable than NCV studies. You’ll also be asked to flex your muscles during this type of exam. In the end, your neurologist will have a readout detailing how well your muscles responded to the electrical stimulation. This type of testing can help determine whether your nerve pain stems from a pinched nerve, neuromuscular disease or other condition.
Electromyography is a low-risk procedure. Some experience soreness at needle injection sites or light bruising and swelling, but these side-effects are generally brief and can be mitigated with over-the-counter pain medications. As is the case with NCV testing, those with an ICD or pacemaker may need additional safety precautions during the procedure.
What is NCV Testing?
Nerve damage is typically the root cause of nerve pain, and NCV testing is one method we use to identify impaired nervous system function. Short for nerve conduction velocity, NCV testing shows just how quickly an impulse travels along a neural pathway.
In this type of testing, two adhesive electrode patches will be attached to your skin over the nerve being assessed. One of these will send slight electrical impulses through your nerve while the other analyzes how the nerve responds to this stimulation. By factoring in the distance between the electrodes and how long the electrical impulse takes to travel from one to the other, your physician can calculate the velocity at which it traveled.
NCV testing helps show whether nerve damage is present as well as the extent of any degradation of the neural pathway. Carpal tunnel syndrome, herniated or bulging discs and chronic inflammatory neuropathy are a few of the common conditions this type of analysis can help uncover.
While the risks of NCV testing are extremely low for most patients, special precautionary measures need to be taken for those with a pacemaker or cardiac defibrillator implant. Some report mild discomfort during testing, but the procedure is generally painless.
Preparing for EMG and NCV Testing
For the most part, very little preparation is needed for either type of nerve function assessment. In some extenuating circumstances, patients are asked to fast prior to being tested, but this is rarely the case.
You may be asked to refrain from using moisturizers for a few days before your test. Lotions and skin creams can interfere with the electrode connections. Patients are also typically asked to avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and similar substances before their tests because they can alter normal nerve function and generate inaccurate results.
After the Fact
As mentioned, some minor soreness, redness or swelling may arise after EMG testing. Most experience little to no side effects following NCV testing, but minimal soreness could become an issue in rare instances. Patients are usually allowed to return to their normal daily activities once their tests are completed though rest and only light activity are recommended in certain cases.
Pain, numbness and discomfort are common with everyone experiencing these symptoms at some point. For most, the cause is obvious, so its easily treatable; however, this isn’t always true. If there’s no immediately apparent reason for these issues, finding effective treatment options requires digging a little deeper.
Fortunately, we’ve got some nerve, and this happens to be just what it takes to get to the underlying source of your pain. Contact us and let us help you find the relief you need.
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