Many of the patients who see the hand and upper extremity specialists at MidAmerica Hand To Shoulder Clinic are diagnosed with nerve compression. Most of you are familiar with the conditions Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or Cubital Tunnel Syndrome (ulnar nerve compression at the elbow).
Diagnosis and initial treatment recommendations are based upon taking a thorough history and the performance of a physical examination by your physician. Electrodiagnostic testing (commonly known as an EMG) is often requested to confirm the physician’s diagnosis, especially in cases where surgical treatment may be recommended. Electrodiagnostic testing is also ordered when the cause of numbness and tingling or muscle weakness is unknown.
The test consists of two parts and is performed in our physician’s office:
Nerve Conduction Velocities (NCV) which measures the speed at which electrical signals are transmitted down your nerve. If you think of your nerve as a telephone cable which transmits a signal this will approximate one of the functions of your nerve. To measure transmission a tiny electrical charge is sent along the nerve which is recorded at a second location on the fingertips. You may feel a tingle or your muscle may twitch in response.
Electromyelogram (EMG) which directly measures the electrical activity of specific muscles in your upper extremity. This is accomplished by inserting a tiny needle into the muscle itself. You will be asked to contract your muscle during this portion of the examination. Our physicians monitor the results of the examination through a special computer screen to ensure accuracy and completeness of the information received.
A nerve test typically requires 30-45 minutes to perform and you may experience minor aches during the test, but there are no activity restrictions once the examination is completed.
Your MidAmerica physician will review the results with you at your next clinic visit and further treatment recommendations will be made. For more information please click on the following link to see our educational animation on EMG.