EMG DEFINITIONAn electromyography (EMG) is a diagnostic test used to examine the health of your nerve (motor neurons) and muscle cells. An EMG is capable of translating the electrical signals that motor neurons transmit to cause muscles to contract into numerical values, sounds, or graphs that a specialist deciphers.
EMG PURPOSEYour doctor may prescribe an EMG if you have signs or symptoms for a muscle or nerve disorder. Symptoms for these include cramping, muscle pain, muscle weakness, numbness, and tingling. It can also be used to diagnose diseases affecting the connection between muscle and nerve as well as the motor neurons of the spinal cord or brain.
EMG RISKSAn EMG has little to no risks. Because a needle electrode is used and skin penetration is involved, there's the risk for infection, bleeding, and nerve injury. Your lungs can also collapse while your muscles along the chest wall are being examined.
EMG PREPARATION REQUIREDBefore the EMG, you must first divulge to the neurologist if you have hemophilia, possess a pacemaker or any electrical medical device, or take blood-thinning (anticoagulant) medications. You should also know your EMG schedule, plus you should bathe prior to undergoing the procedure to remove oils from your skin.
EMG PROCEDUREYou'll first change into a hospital gown and then lie down on an examination table. Electrodes are then attached to various locations on your body depending on where you're experiencing symptoms. You'll feel a twinge or spasm from time to time whenever the electrodes transmit currents to your body. Follow the neurologist's instructions all throughout the exam.
EMG COMPLICATIONSAn EMG has rare complications and is for the most part a low-risk procedure. There's an unlikely risk for nerve injury, infection, and bleeding when the needle electrode is inserted into you. There's also a small risk for lung collapse or pneumothorax.
EMG SIDE EFFEMGSTemporary, minor bruising from needle electrode insertion is the likeliest, most common side effect of having an EMG. The bruising should fade away within a couple of days. Aside from that, taking an EMG involves low risks and unlikely complications.
EMG RESULTSYour neurologist will make a report based on what had happened during your EMG exam. Meanwhile, your primary care doctor or the doctor who prescribed the EMG in the first place will talk to you about the results in a follow-up appointment. Feel free to ask questions during this meeting.