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EMG Testing

What is an electromyogram (EMG) Test?

An electromyogram (EMG) is a test that is used to record the electrical activity of muscles. When muscles are active, they produce an electrical current. This current is usually proportional to the level of the muscle activity. An EMG is also referred to as a myogram.

EMGs can be used to detect abnormal electrical activity of muscle that can occur in many diseases and conditions, including muscular dystrophy, inflammation of muscles, pinched nerves, peripheral nerve damage (damage to nerves in the arms and legs), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), myasthenia gravis, disc herniation, and others.

Why is an EMG test done?

An EMG is often performed when patients have unexplained muscle weakness. The EMG helps to distinguish between muscle conditions in which the problem begins in the muscle and muscle weakness due to nerve disorders. The EMG can also be used to detect true weakness, as opposed to weakness from reduced use because of pain or lack of motivation. EMGs can also be used to isolate the level of nerve irritation or injury.

What to expect-

Prior to your EMG

  • You should arrive for your EMG test with clean, dry skin.
  • Please do not use body lotions, oils, etc. as this interferes with the test and may result in rescheduling and/or repeating the EMG test.

The Procedure

  • Your skin will be prepared with alcohol wipes to ensure transference.
  • There are two portions to this test:
  • Nerve Conduction study - electrodes will be placed on your skin and an electrical impulse is introduced.
  • Electromyography - A small thin needle is inserted just beneath skin surface.

After the EMG

  • You may experience slight discomfort, but it should not affect your daily activity. The discomfort can be resolved with ice treatment for 10-15 minutes.
  • The results of your EMG test will be prepared and forwarded to your referring or primary care physician within 3-5 working days after your test.

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