What is an EMG Test?

Why am I being sent for an electromyography (EMG)?

You are being sent to the EMG lab because you have numbness, tingling, pain, weakness or muscle cramping. Coastal Spine will be using nerve conduction studies and needle EMG to help diagnose your symptoms.

What is an EMG?

EMG is the study of nerves and muscle diseases. There are two parts of the test: conduction studies and needle electromyography. Both nerve conduction studies and EMGs can help physicians determine the causes of patients back or neck problems.

The Nerve Conduction Studies

These show how well the body’s electrical signals are traveling to a nerve. This is done by applying small electrical shocks to the nerve and recording how the nerve works. These shocks cause a quick, mild, tingling feeling. Several nerves will be tested.

The EMG Test

For this part of the test, a small, thin pin is put in several muscles to identify problems. There may be a small amount of pain when the pin is inserted, and only the necessary muscles will be tested. Specialists will be listening to and observing electrical signals that travel from the needle to the EMG machine.

How should I prepare for the tests?

Do not use body lotion on the day of the test. Tell your doctor if you are taking aspirin, taking blood thinners (like Coumadin), have a pacemaker, or suffer from hemophilia. Take a bath or shower to remove oil from your skin. You may eat normal meals and continue taking prescribed medications unless your doctor gives other instructions.

Does it hurt?

Most people describe the procedure as uncomfortable and annoying. During the first part of the EMG test, patients will typically feel a small static shock that builds throughout the process. During the second part of the EMG, patients may experience some pain when the needle is inserted into each of the muscles being tested. We will be testing five to seven muscles so some discomfort should be expected, but the EMG is not acupuncture or a skin treatment of any kind. Nothing is injected into or under the skin.

How long will these tests take?

The test usually takes 45 to 80 minutes. Patients can perform all normal activities, such as eating, driving and exercising, before the tests. There are no lasting side effects. You can also perform all normal activities after the EMG test is complete.