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Electromyography and Nerve Conduction Studies(EMG/NCS)

What To Expect During your EMG Test

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. The results of the test will help your doctor decide what is wrong and how it can be treated.


Answers to Your Questions

Why am I being sent for EMG/NCS tests?

You are being sent for electromyography(EMG) lab because 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 conductive studies(NCSs), needle EMG, and evoked potentials. The EMG doctor will examine you to decide which test to do.

How long will these test take?

The tests usually take 20 to 60 minutes. You may 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.

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.

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.


Types of Tests

Needle EMG

For this part of the test, a small, thin, sterile needle is put in several muscles to see if there are any problems.  There may be a small amount of pain during this part of the examination. The doctor will test 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 (NCS)

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.