Nerve conduction study???

I was scheduled by an orthopaedic doctor for a nerve conduction study on Wednesday. He made the appointment, told me it was just for the lower limbs and pretty much sent me on my way. Would anyone be able to tell me how it works ? What is going to happen? I’m just nervous, I’ve seen lots of doctor the last couple of years but none have really bothered to do many tests. So, any input would great thank you xx

Sorry the link won’t work…

I googled nerve conduction study and came up with this, it looks very interesting I’d like to have a go (is that strange)

Let us all know the outcome.

Jan x

If you follow the link above you then have to search, it’s easier to google Nerve conduction study.

Jan x


What are nerve conduction studies?

Nerve conduction studies give doctors information about how well and how fast the nerves in your body send electrical impulses. This test can be used to check for various different types of problems with the peripheral nervous system. The peripheral nervous system includes all the nerves in your body apart from those in your brain and within the spinal cord itself. Nerves in the brain and spinal cord make up the central nervous system.

How do nerves work?

Nerves act a bit like electrical cables. They use electrical impulses (waves of electricity) to allow communication between the brain and all the other parts of the body. The brain can send signals, in the form of electrical impulses via the spinal cord to the peripheral nervous system. Peripheral nerves can be ‘motor’ nerves, which means they are attached to muscles and cause the muscles to contract (clench). They can be ‘sensory’ nerves, which means they are attached to special body sensors which detect things like heat, pressure, touch, etc. Or they can be mixed nerves, which means they have both a motor and a sensory part. Motor nerves use electrical signals to make muscles move. Sensory nerves send information about the environment back to the brain in the form of electrical impulses.

To work well, most nerves need to be surrounded by a special substance called myelin. Myelin provides a form of insulation for nerves, helping to keep the electrical impulses within the nerve fibre. If nerves are damaged the electrical signal often moves slower through the nerve fibre. The speed of the nerve impulse is one of the things that can be detected by nerve conduction studies.

What are nerve conduction studies used for?

Nerve conduction studies are used for a wide variety of reasons including:

  • To assess nerve damage following an injury.
  • To check for damage to nerves, caused by conditions such as diabetes.
  • To test for conditions affecting the nervous system.
  • To check for ‘trapped’ nerves - conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome


How do nerve conduction studies work?

Small electrical pulses made by a machine are used to mimic the electrical signals made by nerves. By attaching an electrode (small device that is able to detect electricity or supply electricity) to the skin the nerve can be stimulated with a very small electrical pulse. If the nerve is attached to a muscle, the muscle will contract in response to the electrical signal.

To test sensory nerves, the electrodes are usually attached to the fingers or toes with another electrode either at the ankle or wrist. When the electrical pulse is applied to the fingers or toes the sensory nerve carries the electrical signal away from the arm or leg. The electrode at the wrist or ankle detects the electrical impulse when it reaches that point.

The electrodes are connected to a machine which generates the impulses and detects them. It can measure the time taken for the impulse to travel in the nerve from the first electrode to the second. This information, plus the distance between the two electrodes, can be used to work out the speed at which the impulse is travelling along the nerve.This is referred to as the conduction velocity. It is quite fast - usually, 50-60 metres per second.

Nerve conduction studies can also be used to measure whether the size of the electrical impulse decreases as it travels along the nerve.

What happens during nerve conduction studies?

In this test, several electrodes are attached to your skin with tape or a special paste. The electrodes can be stick-on or made of small felt pads soaked in salt water solution. Felt electrodes are usually mounted in a plastic holder and kept in place with a strip of Velcro®.

A pulse-emitting electrode is placed directly over the nerve to be tested. If the nerve controls a muscle, a recording electrode is placed over the muscles under control of that nerve. Several quick electrical pulses are given to the nerve. The electrical pulses are very brief and feel like a sharp tapping sensation on the skin. Most people do not find this too uncomfortable.The time it takes for the muscle to contract in response to the electrical pulse is recorded. The speed of the response is called the conduction velocity.

If the nerve being tested is a sensory nerve the recording electrode is placed in a position that will record the impulses going back toward the brain. The same nerves on the other side of the body may be studied for comparison.

Nerve conduction tests may take from 15 minutes to 1 hour or more, depending on how many nerves and muscles are studied.

What should I do to prepare for a nerve conduction study?

Usually very little. Your local hospital should give you specific information about any preparation necessary. If you take certain types of medication, such as muscle relaxants or other medicines called ‘anticholinergics’, your doctor may ask you to stop taking them a few days before the test. You should let the person testing you know if you have a pacemaker or defibrillator for your heart.

It is also helpful if your hands and feet are as warm as possible, if they are cold this may slow down the electrical impulses. You may be asked to avoid hand lotions or creams. Loose-fitting clothing that can be rolled up to above the elbows and knees is very helpful. Bracelets, rings and watches will usually be removed for tests on the hands, and socks or tights removed for investigation on the feet.

Are there any possible side-effects or complications?

While it may sound alarming to have an electrical impulse applied to your skin, the amount of electricity that passes through you is very small. Most people tolerate the test very well and have no side-effects or complications after the test.

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This is an Evoked Potential:

Somatosensory Evoked Potential (ssep) is one test used to help in the diagnosis of MS. Abnormalities with SSEPS are not specific for MS and can be abnormal due to other disease processes. Information gained from the SSEP in addition to clinical history, physical exam, MRI, and spinal tap results can either support or refute the diagnosis of MS. The technique consists of applying a 5-per second painless electrical stimulus at various nerves in the arms or legs and recording at various locations (near clavicle, cervical spine, and parietal cortex). The impulses generated by the stimuli are averaged and the time the impulse takes to reach the various points is measured. Abnormalities include slowing or blocking at the various points.

Hey guys thank you so much for all your comments, all were appreciated and really helpful. I’m sorry for not replying sooner. Theres not muh to tell to be honest. I turned up to the appointment and straight away he changed it to both my legs and arms. He was really nice but quick and quiet. He went for the process of the sticky pads and electric pulses and then shoved a needle about 3 inches big into my calfs, thighs, upper arm and then he got me to lean forward and put it in me back. It was making alot of noise out of one the machines. He didn’t really explain anything. The whole thing was over in about 15 minutes and he told me it was a good idea to have the test but he wasn’t concerned at all about the results and that he believed it would all get sorted soon. I haven’t had my results back yet but I have an appointment with the orthopaedic doctor again. Im not sure what to take from the nerve conduction study. Any advice??

Hi, I had a test yesterday and just wanted to know if my results were normal?

Hi All,

i had a test yesterday and the lady who was doing it left the room to speak to a consultant to see if he wanted to more tests.

She left the computer screen on and I took a picture I was just winding if my results are not mail can anyone help please