Electromyography (EMG) is a form of electrodiagnostic testing that is used to study nerve and muscle function. It is commonly performed by a physiatrist or neurologist with special training for this procedure. An EMG nerve test can provide your doctor with specific information about the extent of nerve and/or muscle injury and can also determine the exact location of injury and give some indication whether the damage is reversible.
There are actually two parts to EMG:
In most cases, your doctor will perform both elements, but in some situations, only one or the other may be done. (Find a doctor at HSS who performs EMG testing.)
Conditions that EMG testing helps diagnose include:
Your doctor may order an EMG test if you experience any of the following symptoms:
EMG testing usually takes anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes, depending on the condition being tested and findings of the study. A report that includes the results and an interpretation will be sent to your doctor.
EMG testing may result in some discomfort, but it is usually well tolerated without any need for pain medication.
EMG testing is extremely safe, but talk with your doctor if you take blood thinners, have a pacemaker or implanted defibrillator before having the test. No special preparation is needed for people who have a hip, knee or other joint replacement prosthesis.
An EMG test is very safe. EMG needles are used for only one patient, are not recycled, and are immediately disposed of following use.
Side effects of an EMG test may include some muscle soreness, but this rarely lasts more than an hour or two after the exam.