What is an EMG?

EMG stands for electromyography. This is a test that is combined with nerve conduction velocity (NCV) to evaluate the health of your nerves, looking for any evidence of nerve damage. EMG can help determine not only if there is damage, but often where that damage is coming from and how severe it is. EMG can also be used over time to follow recovery from nerve damage to assess progress and provide information about prognosis.

Who performs the test?

Many practices have a non-physician technician perform key elements of this test. At Ascent Pain & Injury Specialists we believe in providing only the highest quality patient care. That is why our physicians perform the entire study, without the use of a technician.

What is it like getting this test done?

There are two parts to the test. The first part is the NCV. Dr. Shoemaker will apply sensors to the skin of your hands or feet and make some measurements. A device called a probe will be used to deliver a small shock, about the strength of a static shock, lasting about 1/1000th of a second. This will be done in multiple places along your arm or your leg to test the health of the nerves.

The second part of the test is the actual EMG and uses a small wire, similar to a very small needle which is about the size of an acupuncture needle. Your physician will insert the wire only very superficial, just inside the muscle. The needle or wire works like a microphone to listen and see how the nerves are firing.  The wire is moved around several times in each muscle to listen to various areas. There is no shock or electricity for this part of the test, just listening to your body’s own natural electricity.

The study takes between 45 and 90 minutes depending on the amount of testing that needs to be done. If significant testing is required, the study can be divided into two sessions done on separate visits.

Most people tolerate the test without any issues and there is no need for sedation or anesthesia.