Nerve and muscle damage can be difficult to pinpoint and diagnose. Electromyography and nerve conduction studies help physicians better treat patients suffering from nerve or muscle dysfunction.
A person suffering from numbness, tingling, pain, loss of sensation or specific types of neurological disorders may have nerve or muscle damage. The electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction study (NCS) services at Franciscan Health can detect problems with muscles during rest or activity. Common disorders or conditions that benefit from electromyography and nerve conduction studies are:
Electromyography (EMG) assesses the health of your muscles as well as the nerves that control your muscles. EMGs are ordered most often when patients are experiencing muscle weakness. The test helps doctors determine if weakness is due to a neurological disorder. During the test, a specialist inserts a very thin needle electrode through the skin into the muscle. The electrode on the needle picks up the electrical activity given off by your muscles. This activity appears on a nearby monitor, and may be heard through a speaker.
Some patients may feel some discomfort during an EMG, but most people are able to proceed without trouble. The area where electrodes are inserted may be bruised or feel tender for a few days afterward.
Nerve conduction studies (NCS) are usually done in conjunction with electromyography. NCS testing give physicians important information about nerve and muscle function. They help identify, for example, whether a patient's problem is in the spinal cord, muscles, nerves leading to muscles or other structures in the body. During the test small discs or electrodes are placed on the patient's limbs. Each electrode gives off a very mild electrical impulse to stimulate the nerves underneath. The electrodes also record how long it takes impulses to travel along the nerves. Looking at these measurements, your healthcare provider can determine the speed of the nerve's signals – and ultimately identify problems that cause muscle weakness, spasms, paralysis or pain.