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Why Did My Doctor Order a NCV After My Accident?

Guy DiMartino Oct. 11, 2015

Why Did My Doctor Order an Ncv After My Accident?

Video explains nerve conduction velocity tests, what they are and what they show

It's a pretty common story. You were injured in a car accident or slip and fall and started to feel numbness, pain or tingling in your wrist, hand and fingers. You tried anti-inflammatories and physical therapy but the problem is getting worse. Finally, your doctor said she was going to send you for a nerve conduction velocity test (“NCV”). Now you have questions. What is an NCV? How is it done? and What is the doctor hoping to find?

The Nervous System

There are three parts to the nervous system: (1) central nervous system; (2) peripheral nervous system; and (3) autonomic nervous system. The central nervous system consists of the brain and the spinal cord. The peripheral nervous system begins as the nerve exits the spinal cord and travels out to the body. The peripheral nerves have a motor and sensory component. The motor part moves muscle and the sensory part conveys pain, temperature, position sense, touch and vibration. The autonomic nervous system is the automatic nervous systems. It regulates sympathetic and parsympathetic control of our organs.

The Test “NCV”

Nerve conduction velocity tests measure the speed in which an electrical impulse travels along a nerve. It primarily tests the sensory component of the nerve. NCV test is less invasive than an EMG because the electrodes and stimulus are placed on top of the skin, where in an EMG a need is inserted to deliver the electrical impulse.

What Is the Doctor Looking For?

Most of the time your doctor is looking nerve entrapment. The most common location is the carpal tunnel,but the test is also used for ulnar nerve problems and entrapment of the ulnar nerve at the elbow which is called cubital tunnel syndrome. Additionally, the test can help diagnose tarsal tunnel syndrome also.

Nerve conduction velocity testing can be useful in determining why a client after an accident is experiencing pain, numbness and/or tingling in the wrist, hand, fingers or foot.