Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"Does a nerve conduction test detect a pinched nerve?"

ZocdocAnswersDoes a nerve conduction test detect a pinched nerve?


Had some strange pains in my arm lately. My brother says it could be a pinched nerve and I should have a nerve conduction test. Would this find a pinched nerve? What exactly does the test involve?


Nerve conduction study is used to determine whether or not there is a problem with conduction. It does not tell what kind of conduction problems. It is often used to determine other types of musculosketal diseases. If you've had a ''pinched'' nerve, the most straight-forward thing to do is to get a physical exam. There are four major nerves going down your arms, with three major ones continue down to your forearms, hands and fingers. There are several typical locations where a nerve comes close to the surface of the skin. With little soft tissue or bone for protection, it can be easily pinched. These locations include your firt rib and the inner side of your elbows where the ulnar never comes close to the surface as it crosses the joint. Frequent trauma to this location (typically from prolonged desk work) can cause ulnar neuralgia. Pain is along the inner forearm and the ring and pinky fingers. Another location is in the wrist where the median nerve crosses your wrist to innervate the hand. In this location, the nerve travels with many other structures all squeezed in a tight ring of fibrous band. Jobs requiring repetitive motion of this joint like typing can cause pain in the affected wrist and hands (sometimes with numbness or weakness). Many of these conditions can be very severe. Some can be corrected by exercise and by modifying your work habits. Some will need surgical consultation (i.e. when a nerve pinch is caused by the first rib or carpal tunnel). It is best to get a fundamental evaluation by a primary care physician who can then direct you to appropriate specialist or order specific tests if warranted.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.