What is Electrodiagnostic Testing (EMG/NCS)?
Electromyography, or EMG, is a diagnostic test that the physician may order to assess the electrical activity of muscles. Often, EMG testing is performed with another test that measures the conducting function of nerves. This is called a nerve conduction study. Both tests are generally done at the same visit in the same room.
There are some medical conditions that the muscles or nerve’s electrical activity is not normal. This could be due to nerve compression (pinched nerve), an injury, nerve root injury, or other problems or diseases of the muscles or nerves. Performing an EMG/NCS can assist the doctor in ruling out a suspected condition or confirming a diagnosis.
What happens during an EMG?
During this test, you will be fully awake and lying on an examination table next to an EMG machine that looks like a laptop computer. During the first part, Nerve Conduction Studies, some brief electrical shocks are delivered to your arm or leg in an effort to determine how fast or slowly your nerves are conducting the electrical current. A nerve works something like an electrical wire, so to test the currency the easiest thing to do is to run electricity through it. If there are any problems along its length, you will know it by a failure of the current to go through. Small recording electrodes are attached to the surface of one part of your limb, and another pair of electrodes will be placed further away on your skin to deliver the shock. You will feel a tingling sensation that may or may not be painful. Between the brief shocks you will not feel pain. During this test the procedure may be repeated 3 or 4 time per extremity being tested. Patients wearing pacemakers or other electrical devices need not worry since this current will rarely interfere with such devices
Are there any side effects?
The electrical impulses and needle examination can both be somewhat uncomfortable. However, generally there is no risk from the procedure and no side effects. Local muscle soreness post test may be present for several hours.
ARA has a highly trained neurologist that conducts these tests at our locations on specific days of the week. If your physician orders this test, we are happy to schedule your test at one of our locations or refer to another facility for your convenience.