What Happens During an EMG


Curious about what happens during an EMG (electromyography) and Nerve Conduction Studies (NCS)? Maybe you’re scheduled for a test and are nervous about it.

First off, what does an EMG/NCS test, and what conditions are to be ruled out? NCS tests peripheral nerves, and an EMG tests the electrical activity of muscles. The doctor will probably test both sides for comparison. These studies can rule out radiculopathies (pinched nerves in the neck and back), peripheral neuropathies, peripheral nerve entrapments such as carpal tunnel syndrome, and neuromuscular diseases.

So, what can you expect during the test? During the Nerve Conduction Studies, electrodes will be attached to the surface of the muscle that is to be tested. These will be connected to a small machine and computer next to you. Small electrical shocks or pulses will be sent through the electrodes. This tests how your nerves conduct the electrical currents. These shocks may be uncomfortable, but between the shocks you will not feel any pain. The shocks are all given at a safe, low level.

During an EMG, thin needles are inserted into the muscles that are to be tested. The needles are very thin, thinner than needles used to draw blood, and are inserted into the muscle itself. The insertion may be uncomfortable, but the presence of the needle once inserted should not painful. This test does not use electrical shocks, but instead simply tests muscle activity. You may hear some buzzing or static-like noises from the EMG machine.

At NY Bone & Joint Specialists, Dr. Michael Mizhiritsky, specialist in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, holds a proficiency in electrodiagnostic testing. Many surgeons and physicians have referred to Dr. Mizhiritsky’s electrodiagnostic testing expertise.

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