Electrodiagnostic medicine is the study of diseases of nerves and muscles. Your doctor has recommended an EMG test to see if your muscles and nerves are working right. You can have problems in only one part of your body or throughout your body. The results of the tests will help your doctor decide what is wrong and how it can be treated.
Why am I being sent for an EMG?
If you have numbness, tingling, pain, weakness, or muscle cramping. Some of the tests that the EMG doctor may use to diagnose your symptoms are nerve conduction studies (NCSs) and needle EMG.
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.
For this part of the test, a small, thin needle is inserted in several muscles to see if there are any problems. A new needle is used for each patient and it is thrown away after the test. There may be a small amount of pain when the needle is put in. The doctor tests only the muscles necessary to decide what is wrong. The doctor will look at and listen to the electrical signals that travel from the needle to the EMG machine. The doctor then uses his medical knowledge to decide what could be causing your problem.
How long will these tests take?
The tests usually take 30 to 60 minutes. You can do any of your normal activities, like eating, driving, and exercising, before the tests. There are no lasting effects. You can also do your normal activities after the tests.
How should I prepare for the tests?
Tell the EMG doctor if you are taking 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.
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 for the EMG for the next step in your care.