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This page describes what nerve conduction studies are used for, what you will feel during the test and more information about the test, like how long it takes, how to prepare and what an EMG (needle muscle test is). You can skip at any time to book the test.

What is a nerve conduction study used for?

Testing of many neurological conditions involves analysing electrical signals of nerves (Nerve Conduction Studies) and muscle (EMG: Electromyography). These are useful for a range of different peripheral nerve problems.

Neurophysiology is the study of the function of nerves. By measuring responses and effects of nerves, the neurophysiologist can diagnose a variety of problems, including entrapment of nerves (such as carpal tunnel syndrome – median nerve is trapped at the wrist, or ulnar nerve entrapment at the elbow), where nerves are compressed by other structures. People typically experience numb or painful hands and wrists in these sorts of problems. Another example is footdrop, where one of the nerves (the peroneal nerve) is trapped near the knee.

It is also useful for damage of nerves (such as peripheral neuropathy, for example due to diabetes). People typically complain of burning or numb feet in this.

By using computer-aided technology, the small responses of nerves and muscles are recorded accurately to help diagnose what is wrong.

What will I feel during the nerve conduction test?

Given the small electrical pulse, you may feel an unusual tapping sensation at the site of the stimulus on the arms or legs, depending on what part(s) of the body the test is performed. If the movement part of the nerve is being tested, you may feel the twitch of the muscle. There are no after effects of the test.

The hands and arms are tested if that is your major complaint, such as for numb hands of carpal tunnel syndrome or ulnar nerve compression. Naturally, the feet, legs and hands are tested if there are the tingling or burning feet of a peripheral neuropathy or a footdrop.

Motor nerve conduction study of the wrist for carpal tunnel syndrome

How long will it take?

Usually, the test takes less than 30 minutes and the results are discussed at the time with you and sent to your referring doctor (and others looking after you) by that evening.


Wear loose clothing to allow nerves to be tested easily.
Please remove rings and bracelets from your hands, and try to remain warm to obtain the most accurate results

What do I feel during electromyography?

Not all nerve conduction studies need EMG, so most will not experience this.

For those that need EMG, the thin size of the needle (much finer than a blood-taking needle and around the size of an acupuncture needle) means the test should not be too uncomfortable, but it may leave a small bruise and some discomfort in the muscle for a little while after the test.

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