Electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction studies (NCS) are diagnostic tests used to measure the electrical signals that travel through the muscles and nerves.
Electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction studies (NCS) are diagnostic tests used to measure the electrical signals that travel through the muscles and nerves. An EMG focuses on the electrical signal within the muscle when it is at rest, while an NCS focuses on the ability of the nerves to carry electrical signals to the muscles.
The brain sends electrical impulses through the nerves and to the muscles to signal them to move (activate). When a physician suspects that a patient’s problems may be due to the muscles not activating properly, they may order an EMG and/or an NCS to help determine whether the problem lies in the nerves or in the muscles.
The process of performing an EMG or nerve conduction study is similar among pain clinics in Atlanta.Before a nerve conduction study or EMG is performed, the area that will be examined will be cleaned. You will be positioned in such a way to give best access to the muscle or nerve being studied. In an EMG, an electrode will be inserted via a small needle into the muscle. You will be instructed to perform specific movements, and a machine will monitor the electrical signal while the muscle moves or is at rest. The electrical signals may be observed on a screen with a line that looks similar to a heart monitor, or it may be monitored through sounds.
In an NCS, a similar procedure is followed. Typically, more electrodes will be used, as multiple nerves and muscles will be studied. As small pulses are sent through the electrodes, your medical team will monitor how the muscles and nerves react. Using the information they gather from these electrodes, they can pinpoint the nerves that may be impaired.
Because these studies use sensitive electrical equipment, it is important that your skin is free of any lotions or creams. Be sure to talk to your doctor if you have a pacemaker, defibrillator, or other medical implants.
The time range for EMGs or nerve conduction studies can vary greatly depending on the nature of the exam, but ranges from 15 minutes to around 2 hours. If only one muscle or nerve is monitored, these tests can be completed in as little as 15 minutes. If multiple muscles or nerves need to be observed, more time may be needed.
EMGs and nerve conduction studies can be performed by a number of healthcare providers, including physical medicine and rehabilitation specialists (also known as physiatrists). Your physician may be assisted by technologists, nurses, or other trained staff to perform certain portions of the procedure. These studies are performed in-house at United Spine and Ortho’s pain clinic in Atlanta, GA.
If you’d like to learn whether an EMG or nerve conduction study could help you, call us at (404) 343-2672 to schedule an appointment with an Atlanta pain specialist at our Atlanta pain management clinic.