Neurophysiology / Neurodiagnostics

Neurodiagnostic testing is a subspecialty of neurology that assists in diagnosing disorders and injuries of the peripheral nerves and spinal roots. The tests are performed on the nerves that connect from the spine to the arms and legs in order to diagnose problems involving your skeleton, nerves, and connecting tissue. Our board-certified neurologist with subspecialty fellowship training and certification in neurodiagnostic testing works closely with our orthopedists to develop diagnosis and treatment options.


Why a neurologist in an orthopedic practice?

The skeletal and nervous systems impact each other. Where you find joints and vertebrae, you will find nerves in close proximity. They are interrelated, often with joint inflammation or trauma causing compression of an adjacent nerve. For example, when a disc in your low back slips and puts pressure on the nearby nerve that goes to your leg, it results in sciatica. When inflammation in the carpal tunnel puts pressure on the median nerve within it, this results in numbness and weakness in the hand. Conversely, nerve damage and lack of feeling can result in deformities in the joints of the feet or spine.

At Ortho Rhode Island we realize that by working closely together, our surgeons and neurologist can communicate about problems involving your skeleton, nerves, and connecting tissues quickly and effectively. For our patients, the result of this close communication and convenient availability will be a thoughtful, well-informed plan of care.


What conditions can be diagnosed?

  • Compressed nerves in the wrist, elbow, knee or ankle (e.g. carpal or cubital tunnel syndromes, foot drop, tarsal tunnel syndrome)
  • Brachial plexus injury in the shoulder
  • Disc compression of nerves in the neck or low back (radiculopathy)
  • Generalized sensory or motor nerve diseases, e.g. diabetic peripheral neuropathy

Symptoms: Neurologic symptoms vary and can overlap. For example, a numb hand could be caused by an issue in the spine, elbow or wrist. Common symptoms that would indicate neurologic testing is needed include numbness, tingling, weakness, pain, burning sensation, cramps, sciatica, or muscle twitches in the affected part of the body.

Treatment: Based on our neurological evaluation, your orthopedist can determine the best course of treatment.


What tests do you conduct and what do they show?

The tests we conduct are called Electromyography, Nerve Conduction Studies, and Ultrasound of Peripheral Nerves (EMG/NCS/US). This testing can show your orthopedic surgeon, internist, or family doctor:

  • Location of nerve damage
  • Severity
  • Acuteness
  • Prognosis
  • Temporary or longer lasting conditions.

All of this information assists you and your doctor to plan the best strategy for your particular situation and potential recovery.


How should I prepare?

  • If your referring healthcare professional is not in our system, please bring the last office note from him/her. If you have had previous EMG/NCS studies, please bring these reports with you as well.
  • Take all medications as usual.
  • Do not use any body lotions or oils of any kind on the day of your appointment. You may use deodorant or perfume.
  • Wear or bring comfortable clothes that can access the body part being studied (i.e., shorts or loose fitting pants to access the knee, short sleeves to access the elbow). Johnnies will be available if necessary.
  • Please block out sufficient time, since your neurodiagnostic testing may take up to two hours.


Who should I contact?

Your primary care physician, surgeon, nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant who will then refer you to Dr. Lussier.