According to statistics, roughly 20 million Americans suffer from peripheral nerve damage.

Peripheral nerve damage, also known as neuropathy, can be caused by a range of things, including genetics, repetitive motions, injury, deficiencies, and diabetes.

If you’ve developed symptoms of nerve damage, your healthcare provider will likely want to carry out a nerve conduction velocity (NCV) test. If you’ve never had an NCV test before, the name alone can sound a little intimidating. NCV tests are very straightforward, but there are a few important things you might need to know beforehand.

Keep reading to find out what to expect from an NCV test.

What Is a Nerve Conduction Velocity (NCV) Test?

Nerve conduction velocity (NCV) tests measure nerve function via non-invasive, low-current electrical shocks. More specifically, an NCV measures the flow of electrical current through motor & sensory nerves. NVCs are also known as nerve conduction studies.

NVCs calculate the speed of electrical impulses in your peripheral nerves. They can be used to detect dysfunction and injury in the peripheral nervous system. Damaged nerves typically relay electrical signals slower and with less velocity than healthy nerves.

NVCs are an essential diagnostic tool for evaluating sensory problems, weakness, and other nerve issues in the extremities. The electrical impulses utilized in a nerve conduction velocity (NCV) test are quite gentle. Its safety and effectiveness make it a popular choice among healthcare professionals and patients alike. NVCs are often carried out in conjunction with an electromyography (EMG) test.

An EMG is a nerve test that measures muscle response or electrical activity in response to a nerve’s stimulation of the muscle. The test is used to help detect neuromuscular abnormalities. During the test, one or more small needles (also called electrodes) are inserted through the skin into the muscle.

EMG and nerve conduction velocity tests can be conducted on just about any part of the body, including the:

Why You Might Need an NCV Test

If your healthcare provider suspects that you might be suffering from a nerve disease or nerve damage, they will most likely order an NCV test.

Here are some of the issues that NCV tests can help diagnose:

Neurologists typically order nerve conduction studies for patients who are suffering symptoms such as:

Aside from helping neurologists with diagnosis, NCV tests can also give healthcare professionals a better understanding of the type and level of nerve damage, the exact location, and how advanced the condition is.

Recommendations Before an NCV Test

If you have an NCV test scheduled, you may need to follow a couple of recommendations on the day of the test.
Primarily, you should avoid applying creams or lotions to your skin before undergoing an NCV test. Creams and body lotions can affect the application of the NCV electrode patches and could alter test results.

Some clinics might request that you avoid caffeine, as it can influence your nerve response and impact the test results. If you are required to avoid caffeine, typically, you will only need to abstain from it for 2-3 hours before the test.

If you are also having an EMG done at the same time as your NCV test, your healthcare provider may request that you stop certain supplements or medications. These generally include medications and/or supplements that could increase the risk of bruising and bleeding.

Another common recommendation is to wear loose-fitting attire that enables the testing area to be readily exposed. Keep in mind these are general recommendations. If your neurologist has ordered an NCV test, the clinic should provide you with specific instructions to follow prior to your appointment.

What to Expect During an NCV Test

After preparing for your test, the technician will request that you lay down or sit comfortably on the examination table. Next, they will affix small electrode patches to your skin using medical-grade adhesive. Once the patches are securely in place, the technician will measure the duration it takes for the electrical impulses to travel between the electrodes. This painless and non-invasive process allows for a smooth and efficient testing experience.

The test process can typically take between 20 minutes to 1 hour.  Upon test completion, generally, it is safe to resume normal activities. Instructions vary based on individual circumstances. It is important to get confirmation from your healthcare provider.

During the test, you might feel some mild tingling or sensations that feel similar to a static electricity shock. The electrical pulses may be uncomfortable; however, the sensation is brief and shouldn’t be painful. The exact process can vary slightly, depending on the nerve locations that are being tested. If you are apprehensive about your upcoming test, speak to your doctor about your concerns.

Do You Need to Have a Nerve Conduction Velocity Test Done?

Nerve conduction velocity tests are an invaluable diagnostic tool. They allow neurologists to diagnose and treat neuropathic conditions accurately.

If you are suffering from symptoms that point to nerve damage, an NCV test can help your healthcare provider learn more about your condition.

Do you need to have an NCV test carried out in Nevada? Neurocare of Nevada specializes in providing current, well-researched therapies for the treatment of neurological disorders. Contact us to schedule your NCV or EMG test.