Electrodiagnostic (EDX) Testing

Medical professionals sometimes use electrodiagnostic testing to identify the cause of a patient’s neck or back issues. Such testing may include studies of the nerves and/or muscles. Nerve conduction involves attaching nerve sensors to the patient’s arms and legs and then stimulating the nerves with small electric currents. The sensors then measure how fast or slow the nerves are functioning. While there may be some physical discomfort associated with this procedure, most patients do not report any pain. Electromyography involves placing small needles in the muscles to measure the electrical activity produced by a muscle contraction. This allows the medical professional to determine how well the muscles are functioning and whether they are receiving the proper nerve signals. Patients who have undergone this type of testing generally compare the sensation they feel to a small cramp in the muscle. Electrodiagnostic testing is typically used when the cause of the pain and tingling that a patient is experiencing is not clear. It also is effective in determining the severity of a nerve or muscle condition as well as ruling out other conditions that mimic pinched nerves. Before a patient undergoes electrodiagnostic testing, his or her medical provider will ask various questions to identify which nerves and muscles should be tested. The provider also will ask about other conditions that can affect the results of this type of testing, including diabetes and thyroid issues. Because this testing may not be safe for patients on blood-thinning medications, patients may be asked to stop taking such medications prior to testing. Testing may be restricted to certain bodily regions in patients with pacemakers or similar medical devices.