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Nerve Test??

ouchithurtsoouchithurts Posts: 79
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:53 AM in Lower Back Pain
I am having lower back pain with pain radiating into my hip, buttocks, & down my leg to my knee. Does anyone know what a nerve test is for the leg pain? The doc said it's not painful but with so much going on he didn't explain it completely.


  • Ouchithurts,

    The standard nerve studies they do to check the status and function of your nerves is to conduct an NCV & EMG.

    NCV = Nerve Conduction Velocity. With this they use electrodes on various parts being studied. The technician will measure the distance between the electrodes. A small electrical pulse is applied to your skin and they measure the time it takes to get between the electrodes. This way they can see if the nerve is (sensory and motor) behaving correctly, or there is some disease on it, or confirm other areas are causing them distress.

    EMG = Electromyography. In this test a very thin needle like probe is inserted in various muscles to check on their electrical potential. They use this if you have weakness. This test also helps see there is muscle or nerve disease or damage going on. It can help see if you have specific nerves being trapped so they can 'see' Radiculopathy or Neuropathy, help in diagnosis a host of nerve related issues.

    Some people actually find both of these to be painful, others (like me) aren't really bothered by either test. I've had many of these, some on just the extremities, and some (2 actually) on the full spine as well.

    This test is subjective. It is only as good as the technician and doctor doing it. I only allow my Neurologist to conduct the EMG, as I have had techs totally screw up my results. The techs are really good at the surface (skin) NCV portion, but not so good with the needle part in my opinion.

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I had the test and with this one I had a tech perform it. He drew little circles on my skin of where he was going to test, then placed a wet sponge on my back (I told him at this point since I didn't know what was next it felt like "The Green Mile" and I was glad he wet the sponge LOL) He then placed a Qtip in water and gently placed it on the areas on at a time and turned up the voltage on each one and called out the numbers to the nurse. I will find out at my next appt. how it turns out.
  • You're very welcome! None of my tests where like the one they gave you. Interesting. They only tested on your skin? No needle testing for the motor nerves? Hopefully you and your doctor will have enough information to help figure out whats going on, and then a game plan can be formed. :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • He didn't use any needles, nothing but the wet Qtip on my skin. Some felt like a bee sting and others felt like a big zap! and some just a mild zing. Some of them took forever to even feel anything. I'm not sure what it's supposed to feel like.
  • I've had a lot of nerve studies, but never one like you had. It sounds rather interesting. I like your comment with the wetting of the sponge and "The Green Mile", that was funny!

    Your test type has me curious. I've just not heard of that type before. Do you know when you will get the nerve study report? Please let us know the results?

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I go back on the 27th. I should have all my results. I certainly will follow up with you all.
  • I haven't hear of a nerve test like that but hope you get your results back soon. The kind I had was where they put needle probes in and zapped with a machine and had to move my foot to get a reading because of my weak ankle and still awaiting my results after 2 weeks.

    If you didn't feel anything do you have numbness already in those areas? Just wondering about your sensory nerves. Please keep us informed about your results.

    Take care and really laughed the first time today about not that you had to have the test but your response about "The Green Mile" movie and wetting the sponge first. It will hell help you get through this with a positive attitude that you have. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • No needles? That's wonderful! I had an EMG with plenty of needles. I rather think I like your test better. On my right it wasn't terribly painful as that's where the damage is, but the left side was horrible. Do you know what procedure you had, so I can mention it if I'm ever asked to submit to a nerve test again?
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,846
    from Spine-Health libraries:

    Diagnostic Tests
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • The test with the sponge and Qtip thing is a "Sensory Conduction Test." I believe it to be fairly new, as in the last few years. My neurosurgeon did not have it the first time on my sciatica and when he did a nerve block injection in my spine, it only lasted for a day. When I went back a few months later, he told me he had a new test, and that's what it was. The next time I was injected it worked for 18 months. That was 2 years ago. I'm having he injection again this coming Monday. Last week I had that "SCT" again and an MRI.

    Searching the interweb tubes for that phrase doesn't bring up much so it really may be new. Hope it helps others that need to know the name of it.
  • to test for TOS {thoracic outlet syndrome} and Brenda is right the needle is small but after being stuck with it over and over again i felt sick and asked the consultant to STOP .its not the worst thing i have had done ..that would be a discography !!!!!
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • Goofy,

    Thanks very much, as I've not heard of this kind of test before. Sensory though to me, implies it doesn't test the motor nerve function? Without going into the muscle, that is just a new/another version of surface, sensory nerve status testing?

    Tony, me...needles don't bother me. On my EMG prior to this one, it was full extremities and spine. I looked like I had the measles by the time they were done! (G)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I would take both spine EMG tests any day over the Peripheral EMG test foot and hands! Now that is OUCH!

    Little nerves get pissed off much easier!

    Regardless, Both are not fun but you will live and don't need to be put out or anything. Both are very important if done correctly.

  • Needles don't bother me...but...when they sick me in the ulnar side of the palm, and check the L4 or S1 in the foot - OUCH!! Otherwise, I would rather know the status of my motor nerves over my sensory nerves any time!! :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I got an earlier appointment and found out my results today. The L5 is affecting my right leg (the most pain) it was off the charts (severely out of the normal range). The S1 was even worse affecting my left leg. Which seems to verify why my big toe on my right foot, side of my right leg, and the side of my left foot is numb and painful at times. I am set up next month for a nerve block & August will be my discogram. Even though my MRI did not show a disc tear my doc strongly believes I have a tear, so we will see. I have confirmed the lumbar arthritis is acting up when it rains...ouch! I am finally getting somewhere. Hopefully less pain is in my future.
  • Howdy Ouch,

    It's a bummer that the study shows lots of problems, but at the same time, it does help us mentally when our pain/numb/weak issues are validated at least! Please let us know how the discogram goes. My surgeon isn't big on them...

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I had my nerve block Monday and it all went well. Still waiting for all the pain to go away though. It's not as bad as before the block but I know it can take several days to take full effect. I was somewhat fearful of the poke but this time I watched it on the screen that the doctor was watching and he described exactly what he was doing and what was being seen, and it didn't hurt much at all.

    I spent a few hours in a junk yard yesterday and I really didn't notice enough pain to make me sit down, as I would usually do, so it must be working.

    For some reason, the IV port they put in beforehand hurt bad! And I have a high tolerance for pain. I asked the nurse if she used a fence pole but she indicated it was a normal needle or whatever it is they use now.
  • Thank you Brenda for the support. It does feel better that I am finally getting progress but scared when I read the other posts about post surgery problems.

    Goofy, is the nerve block like a epidural? I just had 2 of those. I'm not sure what to expect.
  • I really feel so lucky. My PM does not want to put me thru more pain than he has to. That's why he's trying to put the discogram off for so long. Every thing he does he thinks of me in pain first, although as my pain is escalating in my legs he is not as conservative, he's really stepping it up more. I really trust him more & more. He also likes that my husband is going thru this with me & he considers his input also.
  • Ouch,

    Unfortunately for us, the medical side of this whole trip is slow at times. Also, unlike some ailments, nothing is clear cut, so that makes it frustrating too. I'm glad your PM is remembering that you are a person, and taking care of you. :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
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