Electromyography (EMG) Test

EMGs are used to assess and test the electrical activity of peripheral muscles and nerves. During an EMG, small electrodes are placed directly into the muscle using tiny needles and/or on the body’s surface to measure the speed and strength of the muscles’ signals. These signal responses aide the physician in identifying and diagnosing abnormal electrical activity. Common conditions diagnosed using EMG include neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and sciatica.

How do EMGs work?

During an EMG, a small needle electrode is inserted into the muscle or muscles being tested. The electrode picks up the electrical activity of the muscle, which is then amplified and displayed on a computer screen.

The test is usually done in two parts: first, a resting EMG, in which the test records the electrical activity of a muscle at rest; then an active EMG, in which the patient is asked to contract the muscle being tested. EMGs generally take 30 minute to an hour, depending on how many muscles are being tested.

Are EMGs painful?

EMGS are generally well tolerated and painless, but they can be uncomfortable for some patients. The sensation of the needle insertion may be uncomfortable or slightly painful. The patient may also feel a slight tingling or twitching sensation in the muscle being tested, but this should be temporary and should not last long.

Don’t be afraid to discuss your concerns about pain or discomfort with your physician or administering technician. If you feel pain during the test, inform the technician so that they can adjust the test accordingly.

EMGs are used to diagnose:

EMGs can help diagnose a variety of nerve and muscle disorders, such as:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Neuropathy, a condition in which one or more nerves are damaged, causing tingling, numbness, or weakness in the affected area, usually beginning in the hands and feet
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disorder that can cause permanent damage to one’s nerves, which can lead to cause vision problems, chronic fatigue, depression, and tremors.
  • Myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks its own nerve and muscle tissue, which can lead to limb weakness, difficulty speaking and eating, and double vision
  • Sciatica, the compression of the sciatic nerve, which can cause pain, weakness, or numbness in one’s legs

What happens if my EMG is abnormal?

An abnormal EMG test result may indicate the presence of a muscle or nerve disorder. Your doctor may order additional tests, such as nerve conduction studies, blood tests, or imaging tests such as MRI or CT to help further determine the cause of the problem.

It’s important to note that an abnormal EMG test result does not necessarily mean that the patient has a serious or life-threatening condition. Many muscle and nerve disorders can be successfully treated with the right combination of therapy and medication.

Why Choose NGHS

Northeast Georgia Medical Center offers diagnostic tests for a wide range of neurological disorders, conducted with the most advanced, state-of-the-art neurodiagnostic equipment. Our Neurophysiology department features a collaborative team of board-certified neurologists and experienced technicians who specialize in administering and interpreting diagnostic tests. Excellent care isn’t far from home; schedule an appointment with an NGHS provider today.