Brief Description of Procedure: 

An EMG measures and records electrical activity in the muscles and nerves. This may be helpful in determining the cause of pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in the muscles or nerves. Small needles are inserted into the muscle and mild electrical shocks are given to stimulate the nerve (nerve conduction study). Discomfort may be associated with this test.



Preparing for an EMG and NCS:

  • Tell us if you are taking aspirin, Plavix, Coumadin or other blood thinners, or if you have a bleeding disorder.

  • Continue to take your regular medication unless otherwise instructed by your physician.

  • Take a bath or shower prior to the test to remove oils, etc., from your skin.

  • Do not use body lotion or body oils on the day of the test.

  • Keep your hands and feet warm before the test.  In cold weather, or if you get cold in the waiting room, wear gloves, pants, warm shoes and socks, or bring a blanket.

  • Wear loose fitting clothing or layered clothing that will allow the technologist and physician access to your arms and neck (or legs and back, depending on which extremities are to be tested).

  • You cannot bring your children with you into the EMG room.  Please arrange for childcare prior to your appointment.  We do not provide babysitting services.

  • If your child is having an EMG/NCS performed, you may accompany them to the EMG room.  Bring simple toys to keep them occupied while the electrodes are being attached.  You may also want to bring a light snack, favorite blanket or favorite pillow to make them more comfortable.  Let us know immediately if you think your child may not cooperate with our procedures.  We may give you a prescription for a sleep medication that you can administer an hour before the test.


What to expect during the test:

  • The NCS shows how the body’s electrical signals are traveling in the nerves. This is done by applying small electrical shocks to one point on the nerve and recording from another.  These shocks cause a quick, mild tingling feeling, but go away quickly. The doctor or technologist may have to test several nerves.

  • The EMG shows how well your muscles are generating electrical activity.  The doctor will insert a small, thin needle into several muscles.  You may be asked to contract the muscle to see how the contraction changes the electrical activity.  There may be a small amount of pain when the needed is inserted. The doctor will only examine the muscles necessary to diagnose your problem.   A new needle is used for each patient and discarded after the test.


What to do after the test:

  • Check at the Front Desk to see if you have any more tests and to schedule your next appointment.

  • There are usually no activity restrictions after EMG.

  • The muscles that were tested may be sore for a few days.  If desired, apply an ice pack to the area for 30 minutes, three to four times a day.

  • There is a slight risk of bleeding or infection at the EMG needle insertion sites.   Call us at the number above if there is a lot of swelling, discoloration, or discharge at a needle insertion site, or if you develop a fever with a temperature above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Your doctor will discuss the results of your tests at your next office.