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What is an EMG and Nerve Conduction Study?

If you’re feeling pain, tingling, weakness, or numbness an electromyogram (EMG) and nerve conduction study is a prudent course of action. If your doctor orders an EMG or nerve conduction study, she’s simply conducting an electrical test of your nerves and muscles to find the places where your symptoms are coming from.

An EMG is a diagnostic that measures the health of your muscles and the nerves (or motor neurons) that control them.

A nerve conduction study, another part of the study, measures the efficiency and speed of the nerves that send electrical signals.

How an EMG and nerve conduction study works

Simply put, your nerves control your muscles with electrical signals or impulses. Electrical signals cause your muscles to contract. This study looks at these electrical signals and translates them to identify nerve or muscle problems.

A nerve conduction study uses electrodes taped to your skin to measure the strength of your electrical signals to your muscles. These electrodes send electrical signals that vary in intensity and can be uncomfortable for some. Be sure to let you doctor know if you are uncomfortable or feeling pain as she can adjust the signal’s intensity. The EMG portion of the study uses a small needle inserted into the muscle. The needle is about the size of an acupuncture needle.

What do the results mean?

EMG and nerve conduction results can assess and localize nerve or muscle dysfunction as well as the signals going between the nerves and muscles. The results inform your doctor about the best treatment for dealing with pain, numbness, tingling, or change in muscle strength you may be experiencing.

Prepping for your EMG and nerve conduction study

If your doctor orders an EMG or nerve conduction study, wear comfortable, loose fitting clothing and avoid skin creams or lotions as these can interfere with the electrodes.

If you’re feeling symptoms such as muscles weakness, pain, tingling, or numbness, seek out a professional health care provider.

Dr. Sonja Stilp delivers innovative, individualized physical medicine and rehabilitation services in non-surgical spine and sports medicine. Dr. Stilp is specialty trained to perform EMG and nerve conduction studies.

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