Colleen M. Zittel, MD, is a physician with Jewett Orthopaedic Clinic Orlando Health. She specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation, known as physiatry, and electrodiagnosis. Electrodiagnosis uses electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction velocity (NCV) testing to evaluate and treat problems of the nerves and muscles. Dr. Zittel is board certified by the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and American Board of Electrodiagnostic Medicine.
Electromyography, known as EMG, is used to detect neuromuscular abnormalities or any problem related to nerves in the spine, arms and legs. EMG simply means measuring the electrical activity of the muscles. Normal muscles emit electrical signals that are a certain size, shape and sound, but muscles with damaged nerves produce very different electrical signals. By analyzing these abnormal electrical signals, Dr. Zittel is able to identify the specific site, nature and extent of nerve any damage.
Dr. Zittel uses nerve conduction velocity, or NCV, to measure how quickly electrical impulses travel through nerves. Certain nerve diseases cause electrical signals to be transmitted more slowly than normal. This test helps Dr. Zittel determine the site, nature and extent of any nerve damage. NCV is usually performed along with an EMG.
Conditions Diagnosed by EMG and NCV
EMG and NCV are used by Dr. Zittel and her team to diagnosis conditions relating to nerves of the spine, arm or legs, which may cause pain, numbness, tingling and/or muscle weakness. Some of these conditions include pinched nerves in the neck or back resulting from arthritis or disc problems; compressed nerves in the wrist, such as carpal tunnel syndrome; and neuropathies due to diabetes, such as numbness in the hands and feet.
What to Expect During EMG and NCV
During an EMG, the patient lies in a comfortable position on an exam table as Dr. Zittel inserts a tiny needle into a series of muscles. This needle sends a series of electrical signals, which are recorded while the muscle is at rest and as it is slightly flexed. While there is some discomfort when the needle is inserted, it is minimal. Sedatives and anesthesia are not needed.
Several small recording wires are taped to the hand or foot during NCV. Using a small electrical stimulator placed on the skin near the recording wires, Dr. Zittel administers an electrical impulse. As the signal travels down the nerve, it is recorded and printed on a graph. Patients may feel a slight tingle or momentary muscle twitch, however neither is harmful.
Patients receive test results immediately or when they return to see their orthopedic doctor. After testing, some patients experience minor muscular soreness, but most return to their regular daily activities immediately.
Convenient Care Close to Home
Jewett Orthopaedic Clinic Orlando Health offers convenient care close to home. With offices in Winter Park and Lake Mary, Dr. Colleen M. Zittel is just a short drive away. She and her team use EMG and NCV to diagnosis conditions relating to nerves of the spine, arm or legs that cause pain, numbness, tingling and/or muscle weakness. Dr. Zittel is dedicated to helping her patients improve their health and reclaim their best possible quality of life.