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What to Expect During your EMG Test

emg testElectrodiagnostic medicine is the study of diseases of nerves and muscles. If your doctor has recommended an EMG test to see if your muscles and nerves are working right the following information will be helpful if you have any questions about your test. The results of the tests will help your doctor decide what is wrong and how it can be treated.

Why am I being sent to the EMG lab for tests?
You are being sent to the electromyography (EMG) lab because you have numbness, tingling, pain, weakness or muscles cramping. Some of the tests that the EMG doctor may use to diagnose your symptoms are nerve conduction studies (NCSs), needle EMG and evoked potentials. The EMG doctor will examine you to decide which tests to do.

How long will these tests take?
The tests usually take 20 to 90 minutes. You can do any of your normal activities, like eating, driving and exercise, before the tests. There are no lasting side effects. You can also do your normal activities after the test.

Types of Tests

Needle EMG
For this part of the test, a small, thin needle is put in several muscles to see if there are any problems. It is used once for each patient and is thrown away after the test. There may be a small amount of pain during this part of the examination. The doctor tests only the muscles necessary to decide what is wrong. During the EMG test the doctor will be able to hear and see how your muscles and nerves are working by the electrical signals made by your muscles. The doctor then uses his medical knowledge to figure out what could be causing your problem.

Nerve Conduction Studies
NCSs 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. The doctor may test several nerves.

Evoked Potentials
Evoked potentials are painless tests that check the nerve pathways through the spinal cord or from the eyes and ears. The signals for these tests can come from small electrical shocks, light pulses, or clicks of sound in the ears. The nerve responses are recorded over the scalp and other areas of skin.

female researching

How should I prepare for the tests?

Tell the EMG doctor if you are taking aspirin, blood thinners (like Coumadin®), have a pacemaker, or have hemophilia. Take a bath or shower to remove oil from your skin. Do not use body lotion on the day of the test. If you have myasthenia gravis, ask your EMG doctor if you should take any medications before the test.

patient walking with doctor in a hallway

When will I know the test results?

The EMG doctor will discuss your test results with you or send them to your regular doctor. After the exam, check with the doctor who sent you to the lab for the next step in your care.

doctor standing with clipboard

What kind of medical training do doctors who do EMGs have?

You will be sent to an electromyography (EMG) lab because you have numbness, tingling, pain, weakness or muscles cramping. Some of the tests that the EMG doctor may use to diagnose your symptoms are nerve conduction studies (NCSs), needle EMG and evoked potentials. The EMG doctor will examine you to decide which tests to do.

 

Experience Coordinated Care

Brian Oricoli, MD
Brian Oricoli, MD
Pain Management, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
Jonathan Pearlman, MD
Jonathan Pearlman, MD
Pain Management, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
John Walter
John Walter, DO
Pain Management, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

Have questions?

For more information about Fairfield Medical Center’s orthopedic care or to schedule a tour, call 740-687-8649.