What to Expect During Your EMG Test:
Electrodiagnostic medicine is the study of diseases of your nerves and muscles. Your doctor has recommended an EMG test to see if your muscles and nerves are working right. The results of the tests will help your doctor decide what is wrong and how it can be treated.
Why am I being sent to the EMG lab for tests?
You are being sent to the electromyography (EMG) lab because you have numbness, tingling, pain, weakness or muscle cramping. Some of the tests that the EMG doctor may use to diagnose your symptoms are nerve conductions studies (NCS) and needle EMG. The EMG doctor will examine you to decide which tests do.
What type of testing will be performed?
Nerve conduction studies – NCSs show how well the body’s electrical signals are traveling to a nerve. This is done by applying small electrical shocks to the nerve and recording how the nerve works. These shocks cause a quick, mild, tingling feeling. The doctor may test several nerves.
Needle EMG – For this part of the test, a small, thin needle is put in several muscles to see if there are any problems. It is used once for each patient and is thrown away after the test. There may be a small amount of pain during this part of the examination. The doctor tests only the muscles necessary to decide what is wrong. During the EMG test the doctor will be able to hear and see how your muscles and nerves are working by the electrical signals made by your muscles. The doctor then uses his medical knowledge to figure out what could be causing your problem.
How long will these tests take?
The tests usually take 20 to 90 minutes. You can do any of your normal activities, like eating, driving and exercising, before the tests. There are no lasting side effects. You can also do your normal activities after the tests.
How should I prepare for the tests?
Tell the EMG doctor if you are taking Aspirin, blood thinners (like Coumadin or Plavix), have a pacemaker, or have hemophilia. Take a bath or shower to remove oil from your skin. Do not use body lotion on the day of the test. If you have myasthenia gravis, ask EMG doctor if you should take any medications before the test.
When will I know the test results?
The EMG doctor will discuss your test results with you or send them to your regular doctor. After the exam, check with the doctor who sent you to the lab for the next step in your care.
What kind of medical training do doctors who do EMGs have?
Doctors who do EMGs go to 4 years of medical school then have 3 or 4 more years of training in a residency program. Most work as neurologists or physical medicine and rehabilitation doctors. Medical training helps the doctor decide which tests to perform based on your symptoms. It teaches doctors what can go wrong with the human body and how to tell the difference between these problems.
Who does the testing?
The American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine’s policy is that an appropriately trained doctor should do all needle EMG testing. A trained assistant or technologist under a doctor’s supervision can do nerve conduction studies. However, at Redding Spine and Sports Medicine the entire test is performed by a physician.
How is Dr. Purcell especially qualified to perform EMG tests?
Dr. Joseph Purcell has achieved board certification in electrodiagnostic medicine from the American Board of Electrodiagnostic Medicine (ABEM) and is an ABEM Diplomate. The designation of ABEM Diplomate demonstrates that Dr. Purcell has obtained specific training and passed a comprehensive written and oral examination to demonstrate competency in electrodiagnostic evaluation of disorders of the neuromuscular system. Physicians who practice electrodiagnostic medicine diagnose and manage individuals who have medical problems related to muscle and nerve disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome and neuropathies, just to name a few. The most common electrodiagnostic tests include EMG and nerve conduction studies. The American Board of Electrodiagnostic Medicine is the national certifying body for physicians specializing in electrodiagnostic medicine. It was established in 1989 to maintain the high standards required for electrodiagnostic certification and promote high quality patient care. Dr. Purcell is a member of the American Association of Neuromuscular & Electrodiagnostic Medicine (AANEM) and as a Diplomate of the ABEM is granted Fellow status with AANEM, the international association dedicated to advancing neuromuscular, musculoskeletal and electrodiagnostic medicine.