Diagnosis

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:

  • Nerve conduction study. This test measures electrical nerve impulses and functioning in your muscles and nerves through electrodes placed 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 (EMG). 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.
  • High-resolution ultrasound. Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of structures within your body. It's helpful for diagnosing nerve compression syndromes, such as carpal tunnel syndrome.