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What does a nerve conduction test entail?

I'm 43 years old and have had some numbness in my right arm for a few months now. A co-worker said that a doctor would recommend a nerve conduction test. Is this painful? What does the test involve?
If your physician recommends a nerve conduction test, you should feel free to discuss all of your questions and concerns about the test with him or her. A physician sending a patient for any test should be able to go over the procedure. In brief, nerve conduction tests are a way of measuring how fast the nerves in your body conduct electrical messages. If you are having some numbness in your arm, it is possible that part of the reason for this is because the nerves in your arm are not working properly. In order to measure the electrical impulses in any part of your body--we'll use your arm as an example--a neurologist will measure the distance between two parts of your arm, typically the elbow and the wrist. Then, by using a small electrode to trigger one of the large nerves that runs down your arm, he or she can measure how long it takes for a signal at the elbow to travel down and cause a muscle twitch in the wrist. By using the actual length of your arm, the neurologist can determine exactly how quickly the electrical message is moving in your nerves and compare this to the normal value. The uncomfortable part of the test involves mild electrical shocks to trigger the nerves. However, this is not usually unbearable for most patients, and of course the test can always be stopped if it is too uncomfortable. Please ask your physician for more information!
This answer 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 or (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.

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