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Nerve Conduction Test Side Effect?

I had a nerve conduction test done yesterday which was just on my right & left arms - elbow to fingers seemed to be the focus.  

When my right hand was being tested it was resting on my right thigh.  But when he started on my left hand I turn sideways so that it wasn't resting on that leg and so that the person doing the test wouldn't be so close.

I was awakened early this morning with what seemed like a real bad cramp in my right thigh, where my hand had been resting during the test.   That pain has been severe on an off all day and has made it difficult getting around.  

My question - has anyone else experience problems after this test?  

I heard there were no side effects.   But I have may have experienced 3.

1- both my arms where the muscles where tested are sore (I sort of expected that) and

2- the pain in my leg right where my hand was resting (and I rarely have cramps in my legs).  

3- And I almost passed out when the second arm was being tested - I'm not at all sure about that one.  I am not subject to fainting, and had no problems with the first arm on my lab, but the second arm off to the side he had to stop testing while the got me back to full consciousness.
17 Responses
Avatar universal
I had two nerve conductions tests performed on my left arm and I can tell you that my arms cramped severely after the testing. The neuro told me that it's to be expected because the nerves are stimulated for the testing. It causes the muscles to react to that stimulation. He said that I could take Ibuprofen three times per day, every 8 hours if it was 800 mg dose.
As for your almost passing out, sometimes when your body is subjected to a great deal of pain (these tests are extremely painful) your body reacts by passing out...I learned from my doctors that its a self defense mechanism. You can chill when your pain is severe also. If you've ever watched someone in labor, they chatter their teeth from the intense pain. Some think that it's nerves that one is reacting to but it's more often than not from the intense pains of laboring.
When I had my testing the nurse had me rest my arm on the table. With the electrical current being sent through your arm during testing, I have to wonder if some of it passed through to your leg since your arm was resting on it. I have to think that it's plausible because it's so strong.
I use a tens unit and on higher settings I can feel the same as I did during that nerve conduction test. I actually can't tolerate the higher settings of it on my neck because my neck is being pulled in opposite directions with the stimulation. I have it on a burst setting at the moment and so my head is making slight jerky movements also but I know that it's doing it's job as it reacts this way.
I witnessed a girl in for some rehab on her leg and I thought she was keeping time to the music but it was an HWave machine making her muscles contract in her leg and foot. These machines work much the same as the nerve conduction. You might want to ask your doctor tomorrow if this pain in your leg persists. My guess its from the nerve conduction testing since your arm was resting on it.
Hello my name is ME and I had an EMG test done in August 2016 and since then my right arm and hand hurts a lot. Sometimes I receive sharp pains in my right arm and hand, and broke out into a horrible rash. For me its been too long for this action to continue. I called Westchester Neurology Center in Yonkers and spoke with a young receptionist on the phone, I told her about the rash that I had on  my chest and back area, she took my number and to this day no one has called me back. I ended up going to my PCP who prescribed cortizone which I apply 4 times a day. Yes it is clearing up but the pain in my right hand and arm where he stuck the needle still hurts on a consistent basis and since no one has ever cared enough to contact me, I will be look into further actions to see how I can resolve this issue.
Avatar universal
thanks for the info - nice to hear some rationale behind it.  
913054 tn?1242955793
I'm looking for anyone who had a severe reaction to the test and you have.  What happened to me was on my left leg.  When he finished, I began going into a seizure, my entire body began jerking and I was screaming at him to stop whatever he was doing to cause this.  He just looked at me out of the corner of his eye but didn't say anything. After about one and half minutes, I began to calm down.  The only thing he told me was that he had touched a bad nerve!  He took me up to head nurse and told her that I have a severe pinched nerve in my back and that I REALLY am in a lot of pain!!! Idiot, I told him I was!
Avatar universal
I just had a nerve conduction study on my legs and lumbar spine. I have severe stenosis. I have a high threshold for pain having suffered from this for over 20 years, with early onset. This test was EXTREMELY painful. The doctor offered to stop because I was crying and screamed a couple times. since we were almost done I bit the bullet and finished. My problems started about 2 hours later. I had severe muscle pain and cramping, and the next morning I had to crawl to the bathroom. Have been in bed all day. It feels like someone lit every nerve in my body on fire. I am taking nerve pain medication, muscle relaxants, and codeine. I should be quite comfortable but I am not. I am also experiencing muscle weakness.
FYI I swim everyday, so this is seriously not normal. Of course can't reach the doctor. Also, I see other people have had these kind of reactions, why are doctors not acknowledging?
Avatar universal
I found this post when I was looking for an answer to this very question, after waking up around 3am with a foot and leg cramp (right side) following a nerve conduction test the previous day (the test was only on my hands which were not touching any other part of my body).  My whole body felt sore. I went back to sleep and arose at my normal hour. My right shoulder/neck felt like it had been hit with a baseball bat...very stiff and sore. Right hand and forearm was also very sore and painful.  I had no such symptoms before the test. In fact, I was feeling remarkably pain-free except for some pain and stiffness in my hands.  My right hand was deemed "moderate" nerve damage and the left was "mild to moderate."  The median nerve runs the length of the arm through the carpal tunnel so it makes sense to me that I would experience shoulder and neck pain after the nerve had been stimulated by the test.  The leg pain seems strange, although I have had chronic issues off and on with my right side...neck/shoulder pain, leg pain (mid-thigh, large muscle), right hand/wrist.  I'm sure it is all connected somehow but I am not an expert on anatomy.  It was good to know that I am not alone, however, I was not warned at all that there would be any side effects.  I feel bad for people who had much worse side effects (crawling to the bathroom).  Since my nerve conduction study was only on my hands and only moderately painful I can just imagine the impact of a nerve conduction study that was either more intense (voltage?) and/or on a larger muscle group.  I find the crawling part completely believable based on my limited experience.  I feel like I've been in a fender bender where I got hit with "moderate" force (20-30 mph)...just enough time to see it coming, tense, and really feel it the next day.
Avatar universal
Hi, I just had a nerve conduction study on Labor Day September 7th, 2015 and ever since I have had severe vertigo to the point I can hardly stand and walk. The afternoon after the test I felt fine but woke up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and could hardly walk to go to the bathroom. I went to the urgent care and they treated me for a sinus infection and gave me promethazine to keep me from vomiting and an antibiotic. Slept really good last night but am still having the severe vertigo. I don't know if it was a result of the nerve conduction test or not but I have never had vertigo before. I do have some pinched nerves in my neck and back and I also had a tear in the myelin sheath of my spine. I have no idea but I think the test might have aggravated sort of short circuited my back and caused this. I have no idea but I wish the vertigo would stop. It is definitely debilitating. I can hardly walk let alone eat or do my daily day to day things.
Avatar universal
I just had a NCV/EMG. I had the test done on both arms and my left leg due to sciatica.  Within minutes after the tech started the test, I started having what felt like Menstrual Cramps. I also think I went into a kind of shock or just my body's defense mode as I did not pass out however I almost felt "high".  I was pretty chill, though still in much pain due to the cramps and a few of the pokes.  Later I found I was spotting so it seemed to have cause me to have some menstrual bleeding as well as the cramps.  I don't have those "times of the month" due to the type of birth control I use so I know it's not just a coincidence.  The tech said the cramps can be normal from the test and also from me having anxiety.  After the test I went back to work and started noticing I was getting a gradually worse headache/migraine.  It was my whole head.  I couldn't talk very loud and was very lathargic and still am.  It is now 8:50pm and I started the test at 1:00pm today.  I really hope I don't wake up to pain like I see some people have experienced.  Also, I was and still am, just very out of it hence me saying I've been lathargic.  I couldn't answer questions correctly at work and looked like I had no idea what I was talking about...on top of the headache from Hell! If anymore symptoms arise, I will update. Glad to know I'm not alone.
Anthony commented 24/11
Avatar universal
I also am having problems after nerve conduction tests on my hands about 3 weeks ago . The tester bloke looked and sounded worried while testing my right hand , he had to turn the machine right up to get a reaction and then changed to my left hand , my left hand is not as bad as the right . He then did the right one again and asked me if I had ever injured the right hand badly in an accident , which I haven't .
I know he turned it up a lot because  the pain in my wrist during the test went from ok to extreme . After the test I asked him whats wrong and he made out all was ok ..********.......I am still waiting for results .
Since the test I have nearly passed out 4 times when standing up after lying down . The first time was about 2 hours after the tests . Also now I have the shakes in both hands . If I rest my right elbow on my knee or a table , my right hand starts to shake and tremble.....heaps . I feel sick everyday and I am also very tied and sleepy .
My tests were done in Brisbane , where were you guys tested .
Avatar universal
I had a nerve conduction study in Sept 2003.  I was tested on my left leg, hip and arm. The technician had to turn up the 'volume' at one point at which I started to complain of pain. The doctor, who was in the room doing something else came over after it was done. I told him that my thumbs felt sore. I work in a hospital and had gone from work to the test centre and then back to work again. I started to develop a bad headache that was interfering with my work. When I went home that day I felt like my arms and legs were sore. I woke the next day and felt like I had been hit by a truck. I broke out in cold sores all around my mouth. I broke out in a painful rash. I was very weak and couldn't hold my arms up. I read books as a hobby but didnt have the strength to lift a book to read. I started to get shooting pains that felt like searing thunder bolts through my arches and into my legs. I had to go to the Emergency Department from the excruciating pain and they wanted to know what I wanted them to do about the pain. I thought that they were crazy - here I was experiencing all this pain but the answer was 'I never heard of a nerve conduction study having bad results like that" so that meant that it didn't happen? Unfortunately the neurologist who ordered the NCS test in the first place was in Hong Kong for two months so I wouldn't be able to see him for 8 weeks. A medical neurologist resident was called by the Emerg doctor and was told to put me on Neurontin (gabapentin) 200mg every 6 hours with increasing dosing. It actually helped curb the worse of the pain but I felt like I was a zombie. I couldn't concentrate at work and in a medical field that is a no no. I finally saw the neurologist after 8 weeks of hell and he just said "5% of patients have sensitivity to the test" and 'no follow up is necessary'. I asked him how long I would continue to experience this pain and he said 4 - 6 weeks. He took me off the gabapentin and gave me a prescription for amitriptyline. I left that appointment in tears and my husband was bewildered. It is now March 2016 and my life was completely changed since that day in 2003. I am hypersensitive to touch so anything putting pressure on my arms or legs make them burn with pain and start to go numb. I can only sleep on memory foam mattresses. I have to have a special padded chair at work. I never regained the strength in my arms. I can not go to theaters or plays because the chairs are too painful for me. I can’t travel for long distances in a car. I had to cut my hours of work from a full time 40 hour week to two 8 hour days as that was all I could handle with the constant pain and weakness. That affected our way of life because of the loss in pay.  I wish that someone could have told me that this could happen from a simple nerve conduction study. I am having more numbing and pain than usual and they want me to do another nerve conduction study but I had to refuse.
I am sorry that this happened to you and glad to hear you did not take the test again. If people do not report the pain then no one knows and it goes on like there is not a problem. Before they gave you the test did they explain the procedure, side effects, dangers, have you sign a release form. Did they tell you not to use lotions for  3 days before the test, did you wear any jewelry or have a bra on with metal? I saw my neurologist and he asked me to take both the NCS and EMG and I regret it.  I hope you are better
Avatar universal
I had tests done today on both arms. So painful and I fainted afterwards. Now feeling really throbbing aches in my arms
Avatar universal
I had tests done today on both arms. So painful and I fainted afterwards. Now feeling really throbbing aches in my arms
Avatar universal
smh these doctors today don't seem to understand us when we tell them that we are in pain. They act as if it doesn't exist and they don't know what we are talking about. We can tell our doctors all day long about how much pain we are in and they will never understand it because they aren't the ones feeling it. They cant know because they have not experience chronic pain!!! it is a *****. to have to suffer everyday in pain,.
Avatar universal
Hello Spine 100 I can definitely relate to your post. I had a nerve conduction study done this past Friday. The test aggravated my nerves so bad that I have been suffering for three days. My hands and feet are racked with pain as well as my muscles spasms. My neck lower back and knees also hurt. I am so over it. I have been suffering with pain for almost 4 years and the doctor I have now has no idea what I am going through. looking for a doctor that cares is hard these days. I had neck surgery a couple of years ago and every since then I have been battling this demon called chronic pain, of course loose every time. Its frustrating and depressing to not have it managed correctly. I just pray that I find a doctor that can truly help.
Ive recently had a nerve conduction test done on both if my legs. But im having severe pain in the left thigh part. Especially when I cough or bend down. I told my neurologist about it. He said, its BC of the bulging disc. I told him that it wasn't hurting like this before the test. He trying to make it seem like I'm crazy. I don't know what to do. Oh he did say the test might have aggravated that nerve some more. That's bs.
Avatar universal
I had an EMG test done in my neck and down both arms. Later that day I got a large electric shock (like when you touch a door knob after dragging your feet on the carpet) in the back of my neck. Since the electric shock I get server neck pain and migraines where I am bed ridden. It's been a 1 1/2 years since my test and I am still suffering and all they tell me it was a quencadent that I already had the problem. Now they what to do another EMG test and I scared because I am in enough pain don't need to be worse. Hope you get your answers solved.
I hope you will not do the test... There are other ways to test that are not evasive. You already  had the test and it did do you harm. You did not have the neck pain and or migraines before the test.  Why do they want to have this test done again?  Did you sign a release before you had the test done? Did they explain this test? They never told me anything, I never signed a release.  If they do not have a  license to do this it can be done wrong or even if they have a license.  I just would check into it.  I am so mad at myself  I let them do this to me I had a bad feeling and did not listen to myself.
Avatar universal
Yesterday I had the nerve conduction test and the muscle test with the needle. All last night and today I am in servere pain and this morning I can hardly walk or lift anything. The test was done on all limbs. I have mild weakness with chronic pain in my muscles but when i walk through the store or just drive my weakness and pain in my  times 100!! My hallway feels like its 10 miles away atm. The test did make my symptoms worse and I suppose the test will for a few weeks like my symptoms act up after walking driving etc. I am not sure if this is normal tho. I am trying to find out the same thing. Anyway I am being tested for Mitochondrial Disease and MS. Now I have had this for 7 years saw probably 7 doctor's all with dumb answers one says its my celiac one says its autoimmune because i consistently have low blood platelets. One said very rude it was in my head but this was before I had no reflexes and worsening symptoms. So I just want a diagnosis so I know how to treat it. Whatever anyone does don't give up!!!
Thanks for all comments.  After the test on my arms and hands yesterday I have been in a lot of pain and discomfort.  There's no use in telling doctors because they say the test doesn't bother you. At least now I know I an not crszy..
Avatar universal
I had the nerve test today. It was horrible. I am now in worse pain and my thumb and other spots in my hands are very painful. Very frustrating. I will be wary of any kind of invasive testing like this or pain management that involves shots into the muscle. Im not going to add more pain to stop pain.
Avatar universal
I do not know the answer, but feel you should talk with your primary doctor.
I saw my neurologist this week for follow up on a mini stroke. I told him that the last 3 weeks I had pain from my hip and down my leg. He asked if I had any numbness or tingling. I said my toes I have pain sometime because of neuropathy from my diabetes.   He said he wanted to test me for neuropathy and had a nurse come in to do the NCS test and he would come in after to do the EMG test. I did not realize they were going to shock me. I said I have a right Bundle Branch block and I was told I could not have this done and he told me it was no problem.  My legs were shocked and it was quite painful. If my leg did not jump they increased the voltage. The the doctor came in and did the EMG test stuck the needle in three different  parts of my left leg. Which was painful also. I left and my legs still hurt and sometimes tingle and numbness. I called and asked if there were any side effects of course they told me no. I only had neuropathy in my toes and it was just some pain. Now I have pain in my legs, they are stiff, sometimes tingling. The pain I had in my left hip and leg which was not from neuropathy shifted to my right hip and leg. I have a hard time walking. My heart just does not feel right. I know with a Right bundle Branch Block the electricity in my heart is not working right and I am afraid it has done something to my heart. If it keep feeling this way I may need to go to the hospital.  I read up on these test some and it was never explained to me what would happen, never asked if I would want the procedure done. It says you have to sign for this procedure is done explaining everything , like risks. You are not suppose to have any metal on. What about my bra and I had my keys on a rope around my neck that sat on my chest the whole time of the procedure. It says you are not to use lotions  3 days before this procedure.
I had been given drugs before that have caused me severe tendinitis, muscle pain and raised my blood sugars. (Levafloxin, Repatha) He wanted to put me on Lyrica which he wrote a prescription and told me don't read the side effects. It is for neuropathy which I did not really have. I was told I do have it.  I still could feel my feet and legs.  I  am so mad at myself that I did not tell him no. I regret going to this doctor and will never go back. I thought he seemed to care, but he just want to give you the medicines and I guess get paid for these tests. There are other ways to check for neuropathy besides the NCS or EMG test and they are not evasive at all. I have searched to see if these test can cause damage to the nerves and only found one and it wasn't clear.
I would suggest talking to your primary care doctor and not take these test.  I knew nothing of these test, but now I feel the pain, stiffness, numbness and tingling I feel they wanted to damage my nerves to get you on the medications. Lyrica has bad side effects. I just hope someone will read this before having these test and not have them done.  I was being shocked and it was more than a mild zap like when you touch something after walking on the carpet. I am so concerned if it messed up my heart.  They can just do a touch test, blood tests for neuropathy why the heck would I want to be shocked. I hope all those effected by this test get better. I think people do not complain and that is why they  tell you there is no side effects.
Inform the doctor if you are on any medications or nutritional supplements or use of alcohol.
Do not smoke for at least 4 to 5 hours before the test.
Do not apply any cream or lotion and make sure to take a shower before the test to clear the skin.
Take food as usual.
Clothing and metal accessory would be removed before the test. A gown will be given to wear for the test.
During the test
The test area will be examined for nerves and electodes are placed and fixed on the required areas.
Minor electrical shocks are given for stimulation.
The resultant response signals are recorded for analysis.
Risks and complications
Discomfort may be experienced while placing the needle electrodes and when electric shocks are passed, although it is not a painful procedure.
Soreness may be felt in the areas where needles were placed.
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