What is a pinched nerve test?

If your doctor suspects you may be experiencing pain resulting from a pinched nerve — also known as spinal nerve compression — the first test you are likely to undergo is palpation. The doctor will use his or her hands to gently examine the area of the suspected nerve compression, with the goal of determining whether the symptoms are associated with a muscle strain or ligament sprain, as opposed to a disruption of a nerve. You’ll also be asked a series of questions as your doctor gathers information to use in the diagnosis. These questions include how long you’ve felt the pain or other symptoms, activities that might contribute to the symptoms and whether the symptoms are continuous or occasional.

A more detailed form of a pinched nerve test

Beyond palpation and a question and answer session, your doctor may conduct one or more of the following tests to help diagnose a pinched nerve:

  • Nerve conduction study. Electrodes in the form of patches are attached the skin and nerves are stimulated with a mild electrical impulse. This can reveal neural damage.
  • Electromyography. Electrodes in the form of thin needles are inserted into muscles to measure muscular response during contraction or while bending at a joint. This can reveal damage to nerves that lead to a particular muscle group.
  • MRI. A magnetic resonance imaging test allows a doctor to create a visual cross-section of internal portions of the body, including the spine. This may reveal spine conditions that are causing nerve compression.

Treating a pinched nerve

Most people find that symptoms of a pinched nerve respond well to conservative treatment such as pain medication, stretching, exercise, lifestyle changes and physical therapy. However, if chronic pain persists after weeks or months of conservative treatment, surgery might become an option. If so, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn more about the benefits of our minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery. Since 2005 we’ve been able to help more than 75,000 patients find relief from neck or pain at our state-of-the-art centers across the United States.

We are glad to offer a no-cost MRI or CT scan review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.

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