An electromyogram (EMG) is a nerve and muscle test that provides information about the health and function of the nerves and muscles in your arms and legs. The EMG is a valuable tool to diagnose the location and type of nerve or muscle disease, in order to establish an appropriate treatment for you.
To have an EMG, your doctor needs to fill out a requisition form. Download EMG requisition form.
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An EMG test is performed by a specially-trained neurologist and an EMG technologist. The technologist runs the test and the neurologist reviews the results and may do additional testing.
Before Your EMG
Do not use lotions or creams on your arms or legs on the day of the test. Keep hands and feet warm for the test (wear gloves in the winter). Please wear comfortable clothing that will give easy access to your arms and legs. In some cases, we may ask you to change into a hospital gown.
During and After Your EMG
A brief history will be taken by the technologist. Based on your symptoms, the technologist will perform nerve conduction studies on your arms and legs. The neurologist will then review the test results and examine you. If necessary, they will do a special test done with a needle. The neurologist will discuss the test results with you and make recommendations based on the test results.
This test will last approximately 45 minutes. However, some tests are shorter and in other cases they may be longer.
There are no side effects except for the possible needle discomfort, and you will be able to continue your day as normal.
Frequently Asked Questions About EMG
Your physician would order this test for patients who have: carpal tunnel syndrome, peripheral neuropathy, pinched nerve roots, or muscle disease.
The nerves are stimulated with mild electrical impulses that give an unusual and surprising sensation (much like the sensation in the fingers experienced when you hit your elbow on a desk). It can be uncomfortable but not painful.
It depends if you are having a nerve conduction study or muscle testing. Nerve conduction studies are performed by placing discs on the skin. There are no needles for this test. Muscle testing involves inserting small needles into various muscles. A pinprick sensation is experienced. Muscle testing is only necessary in certain EMG testing cases.
The technologist will perform the test and the neurologist will consult and do additional testing if needed.