Electromyogram (EMG) | Neurology | Loyola Medicine

Electromyogram (EMG)

Minimally Invasive Electrical Test to Evaluate Disorders of Nerve and Muscle

An electromyogram (EMG) test consists of nerve conduction studies (NCS) and electromyography. How much of each is determined by the neurologist performing the test. NCS consist of electrical stimulation of sensory and motor nerves, which produces a brief “tingling” feeling or muscle “twitching,” which is recorded by wires taped to the hands or feet. The actual electromyography part involves insertion of a thin, bendable, sterile needle electrode into a muscle, in order to record the electrical activity when the patient contracts or relaxes that muscle. All the recorded responses help determine whether a nerve or muscle disorder is present. Each test is performed or supervised by a Loyola Neurologist who is experienced and has been board-certified in this procedure.

An EMG is used along with other tests for a variety of conditions, including:

  • Mononeuropathy (median, ulnar, femoral, peroneal and other nerve lesions)
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Myopathy
  • Peripheral neuropathy (polyneuropathy)
  • Polymyositis​

Why Choose Loyola for EMG Testing?

Loyola’s neurology and neurosurgery services are nationally recognized. Loyola provides the most advanced care in an academic setting, training future leaders in neurology and neurosurgery. 

What to Expect with EMG Testing

The doctor performing your EMG test will briefly discuss your symptoms and examine your strength, reflexes and sensation. This will help determine which of your nerves should be tested. Tingling or muscle twitching briefly occurs during the electrical stimulation of those nerves chosen by the performing neurologist. This feeling ends when the electrical stimulation stops. You may feel a slight “poke” when the needle electrode is inserted into one of your muscles, and only rarely will that muscle feel sore for several minutes thereafter. These needle electrodes are thinner than the needles used to draw blood tests, and resemble the needles used for acupuncture.

You should take all of your regular medication, including pain medication, prior to the EMG test as usual. There is no need to fast before the test. Generally, you will be able to drive and return to work after the test, although some patients prefer to have a friend or family member take them home. The neurologists performing your EMG test will keep you as comfortable as possible.

What are the Risks of EMG Testing?

As when having blood tests drawn, there may be minimal bruising or temporary soreness after the EMG test. If you are taking anticoagulant medications, let the doctor know, since this will limit what muscles are tested during the EMG. Overall the EMG is a very safe test which is completed in about 30 to 60 minutes.