Nerves carry electrical signals from your brain to your muscles to make them move. Electromyography (EMG) is a way for your doctor to know how well your muscles are responding to those signals.
By checking the electrical activity in your muscles while they are at rest and when they are contracting, your doctor can better understand the cause of your symptoms. An abnormal EMG result can indicate a muscle or a nerve problem.
Who Benefits From EMG Tests
EMG testing can identify or rule out muscle diseases that could be causing your symptoms. These include:
- Muscle disorders like muscular dystrophy, polymyositis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also called Lou Gehrig’s disease).
- Peripheral nerve conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome and peripheral neuropathy.
- Disk disease.
- Pinched nerves.
- Myasthenia gravis.
Often, electromyography is combined with nerve conductions studies, which test how well nerves conduct signals. Combined, these studies can show if you have nerve problems, muscle problems or both.
What to Expect During EMG
Which part of your body gets studied during your test depends on your symptoms and condition. Regardless of location, there are basic steps to expect during EMG:
- One small, thin needle will be inserted into the muscle being tested. This can cause some discomfort, but most patients don’t find it particularly painful.
- The needle detects electrical signals in the muscle.
- You’ll partially and then fully contract the muscle to see how the muscle responds to being contracted.
- The muscle’s electrical activity at each stage is shown on a screen so your doctor can evaluate it.
This information helps us better understand your condition and create a customized treatment plan for you.
If you or your doctor believe you need EMG, you can reach us at (425) 635-6560 for referral and scheduling information.