Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and conduct a physical examination.
If your doctor suspects a pinched nerve, you may undergo some tests. These tests may include:
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Nerve conduction study. This test measures electrical nerve impulses and functioning in your muscles and nerves. A specialist places electrodes on your skin. The study measures the electrical impulses in your nerve signals when a small current passes through the nerve.
Test results tell your doctor whether you have a damaged nerve.
Electromyography. During an EMG, your doctor inserts a needle electrode through your skin into various muscles. The test evaluates the electrical activity of your muscles when they contract and when they're at rest.
Test results tell your doctor if there is damage to the nerves leading to the muscle.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This test uses a powerful magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed views of your body in multiple planes.
This test may be used if your doctor suspects you have nerve root compression.
- NINDS pinched nerve information page. National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/pinchednerve/pinchednerve.htm?css. Accessed Sept. 12, 2013.
- Nerve compression syndromes. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/musculoskeletal_and_connective_tissue_disorders/hand_disorders/nerve_compression_syndromes.html?qt=&sc=&alt=. Accessed Sept. 11, 2013.
- Overview of upper extremity peripheral nerve syndromes. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 11, 2013.
- Rutkove SB. Overview of lower extremity peripheral nerve syndromes. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 11, 2013.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/carpal_tunnel/detail_carpal_tunnel.htm. Accessed Sept. 11, 2013.
- Kothari MJ. Etiology of carpal tunnel syndrome. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 11, 2013.
- Cervical radiculopathy (pinched nerve). American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00332. Accessed Sept. 12, 2013.
- Piecyk ML, et al. Neurologic manifestations of rheumatoid arthritis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 12, 2013.
- Miller TT, et al. Nerve entrapment syndromes of the elbow, forearm and wrist. American Journal of Roentgenology. 2010;195:585.