Electrodiagnostics (EMG & NCS)

In order to diagnosis your condition, the spine physicians at Swift Institute will gather patient history information and perform a physical exam. Your physician may also order tests to record and analyze electrical impulses between muscles and nerves. These tests are used to diagnose, evaluate and treat neuromuscular, musculoskeletal, and nervous system disorders. Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) patients may have about an electrodiagnostic appointment. 

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What is Neuromuscular Medicine?

Care for patients with disorders of the peripheral nervous system (PNS) and its relationship with the central nervous system is known as Neuromuscular medicine. The peripheral nervous system involves the motor and sensory neurons, peripheral nerves, neuromuscular junctions, and muscles. A subset of neuromuscular medicine is electrodiagnostic medicine. The physical medicine & rehabilitation physicians (physiatrists) at Swift Institute are experienced in electrodiagnostic studies.

Who performs the needle electromyogram (EMG) and nerve conduction study?

It is the policy of the American Association of Neuromuscular & Electrodiagnostic Medicine that EMG testing must be performed by a trained physician.

What kind of medical training is required for a physician to perform an EMG?

Physicians who perform EMGs complete 4 years of medical school followed by residency program training of 3 or 4 more years. EMGs are typically performed by physiatrists or neurologists.

Why is an EMG test ordered?

An EMG lab may be ordered for patients who experience numbness, tingling, pain, weakness, or muscle cramping. Nerve conduction studies and EMGs are types of tests that the spine physician may use to diagnose symptoms.

What will a Nerve Conduction Study (NCS) reveal?

Nerve conduction studies can show your spine specialists how well the body’s electrical signals are traveling to a nerve. During this test, small electrical shocks are applied to the nerve in order to record how the nerve works. The shocks may cause a quick, mild and tingling feeling. The doctor may test several nerves.

My doctor ordered an EMG. What does this involve?

During an EMG, a small, acupuncture size needle is placed in several muscles to help diagnosis a back or neck condition. There may be a bit of discomfort when the needle is inserted. The physiatrist will only test the muscles necessary for diagnosis. Physicians are able to see and hear the electrical signals that travel from the needle to the EMG machine.

How long will an EMG / NCS take?

The tests will take from 20 to 90 minutes. Patients can do normal activities, like eating, driving, and exercising, before and after the tests.


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