PLEASE NOTE:  Gold Coast Spine does not perform these investigations, we are supplying information for your reference only.

What is an EMG?

Electromyography (EMG) is a diagnostic procedure which tests the health of both your nerves and the muscles they innervate. There are, therefore, two components to an EMG:

  1. Nerve conduction studies (NCS) – where through placing electrodes on the skin and administering electrical impulses the functioning of the underlying nerves can be determined.
  2. Needle examination – where small needles are inserted into different muscles to determine their activity.

All of the information collected is recorded and, when analysed, helps to build a clearer picture about the current functioning of your nerves and muscles.

Why is an EMG done?

An EMG is a diagnostic procedure, which means it can help diagnose and differentiate between a muscle problem, a connection between the muscle and nerve, a peripheral nerve problem or a more central problem (e.g. damage to a spinal nerve root). It is, therefore, an important test because many of these conditions can cause similar symptoms (e.g. numbness, tingling, pain or weakness).

This test is also very useful in patients with known spinal problems that have been confirmed clinically and through other investigations; as the EMG can identify if spinal nerves are being affected and, if so, exactly which nerve. This can help with tailoring treatment options to your condition.  When an EMG is performed post operatively, it can also show whether a damaged or irritated nerve is recovering.

How do I prepare for my EMG?

Prior to the test, it is recommended to:

  • Ensure your skin is dry and clean and to avoid application of any creams, lotions or oils. Try and have a shower just prior to heading to your appointment.
  • Put on some loose clothing that will be easy to roll up, and be aware that things like tights and socks will have to be removed for leg testing.

Let the person performing the EMG know if you:

  • Are taking any blood thinning medication
  • Have a blood disorder which causes prolonged bleeding
  • Have a pacemaker or other implanted electronic device

How is an EMG done?

For the nerve conduction studies (NCS) small electrodes will be stuck to your skin at different sites, depending on which nerves are to be tested. As the nerves are being tested you will experience some sensations, that have been described by some as a brief tingling, twinge or shock which may be a little uncomfortable.

The needle examination involves the placing of small needles into different muscles which may be met with some discomfort or pain. You may also be asked to move or contract different muscles during the procedure so that they can test the activity of these muscles.

The EMG may take 30-60 minutes though this can vary.

What can I expect after the EMG?

Some patients experience temporary tenderness and/or bruising at the sites of the needle insertion. There are no limitations after the examination so you can return to all of your usual daily activities as soon as you have completed the investigation.

What are the risks of EMGs?

The EMG procedure rarely has any complications; however, there is a very small risk of infection, bleeding, and injury to tissues upon needle insertion.

Delivery of Results

Following your EMG procedure, the person conducting the EMG will produce a report in relation to the results obtained and the report will be forwarded to your surgeon.