What is Electrodiagnostic Testing?
Electrodiagnostic (EDX) studies (sometimes called EMG for electromyography) are a commonly used technique to test the function of muscles and nerves. These studies are ordered by physicians to help determine the cause of back or neck pain, numbness/tingling and strength loss.
Why is an EMG Test Done?
An EMG is often performed when patients have unexplained muscle weakness. The EMG helps to distinguish between muscle conditions in which the problem begins in the muscle, and muscle weakness due to nerve disorders. The EMG can also be used to detect true weakness, as opposed to weakness from reduced use because of pain or lack of motivation. EMGs can also be used to isolate the level of nerve irritation or injury. An EMG measures the electrical activity of muscles when they’re at rest and when they’re being used. Nerve conduction studies measure how well and how fast the nerves can send electrical signals. Nerves control the muscles in the body with electrical signals called impulses. EMGs can be used to detect abnormal electrical activity of muscle that can occur in many diseases and conditions, including muscular dystrophy, inflammation of muscles, pinched nerves, peripheral nerve damage (damage to nerves in the arms and legs), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), myasthenia gravis, disc herniation, and others.
How Are EMG Tests Done?
During an EMG, small, thin needles are placed in the muscle to record the electrical activity. When the needles are inserted, you may feel some pain and discomfort. The doctor will ask you to relax the muscle and to tense it slightly. The doctor will listen and watch a TV-like screen that broadcasts the electrical signals. You will also be able to hear the signal sounds as you move the muscle. When the needles are removed, you may experience some soreness and bruising, but this will disappear in a few days. There are no long-term side effects.
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