Written by: William Walsh, DC
Have you or someone you know experienced pain that shoots down the back of their leg or down their arm and into their foot or hand? Many times patients come to our office saying they have “hand or foot pain”, underwent weeks of therapy, and finished with no results. They want to know how we are different and if we can help them. Many patients are surprised when they are informed that the injury may not be at the point of pain and that we’ll have to do further testing to determine if the nerves are involved.
Let’s start with a quick anatomy lesson to better understand the nervous system. The “Central Nervous System” consists of the brain and spinal cord. From the spinal cord, between each vertebrae comes a “spinal nerve”. This is the start of the “peripheral nervous system”. The peripheral nerves that originate from the neck run down through the arms and into the hands. The same is true for the peripheral nerves that originate from the low back; they run through the legs down to the feet.
Peripheral nerves can become irritated at many points and by many irritants along their path from the spinal cord to the terminal end in the hands or feet. A tight muscle, tight ligament, poor bio-mechanics, compromised tissue or inflammation can cause nerve irritation which results in pain, tingling, numbness or burning sensations anywhere along that peripheral nerve distribution.
The doctors at Monmouth Pain are trained in identifying nerve irritation and damage as board certified practitioners in electro-diagnostic testing, also referred to as Nerve Conduction Velocity testing (NCV). An NCV can tell if there is nerve damage, a nerve disorder or if the nerve is firing improperly. All 3 of these findings are important in determining the correct diagnosis.
Nerve conduction velocity testing assesses the “speed” of each nerve. Each nerve in the body carries a signal at a particular “speed”. During an NCV test the practitioner puts a receiver on the terminal end of the nerve (hand or foot). Utilizing an impulse tool, a current is sent as an impulse into the nerve. That signal goes along the nerve and is recorded by the receiver. The practitioner then moves the impulse tool up the arm or leg and repeats at several points. If the nerve velocity or “speed” is slower in a particular region of the nerve this would indicate nerve irritation or damage.
Electro-diagnostic testing is both a highly sensitive and specific assessment tool. An NVC quickly leads to a reliable diagnosis when utilized in conjunction with clinical testing. A reliable diagnosis leads to a more effective treatment which results in less visits to your doctor. This means more time doing what you love.
So if you or a loved one are suffering with pain, tingling, numbness or a burning sensation that has gotten out of control give us a call to schedule a free consultation to determine if we can help.