What to Expect During Your EMG Test

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You are being sent to the electromyography (EMG) lab because you have numbness, tingling, pain, weakness, or muscle cramping. Some of the tests that Dr. Ellis may use to diagnose your symptoms are nerve conduction studies (NCSs), and needle EMG. Dr. Ellis will examine you to decide which tests to do.

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

Tell Dr. Ellis 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 Dr. Ellis if you should take any medications before the test.

Dr. Ellis 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.

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. Dr. Ellis tests only the muscles necessary to decide what is wrong. During the EMG test Dr. Ellis will be able to hear and see how your muscles and nerves are working by the electrical signals made by your muscles. Dr. Ellis then uses her 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. Dr. Ellis may test several nerves.