Nerve Conduction Test
Electromyography (EMG) is a diagnostic procedure to assess the health of muscles and the nerve cells that control them (motor neurons). Motor neurons transmit electrical signals that cause muscles to contract. An EMG translates these signals into graphs, sounds or numerical values neurologist Dr. Ken Sharlin interprets.
Electromyography (EMG) Diagnostic Procedure
An EMG uses tiny devices called electrodes to transmit or detect electrical signals. During a needle EMG, a needle electrode inserted directly into a muscle records the electrical activity in that muscle. A nerve conduction study, another part of an EMG, uses electrodes taped to the skin (surface electrodes) to measure the speed and strength of signals traveling between two or more points. EMG results can reveal nerve dysfunction, muscle dysfunction or problems with nerve-to-muscle signal transmission.
Purpose of Procedure
At Sharlin Health and Neurology many times a patient’s primary care doctor orders an EMG if they have signs or symptoms that may indicate a nerve or muscle disorder. Such symptoms may include:
- Numbness or Tingling
- Weakness in Muscle
- Muscle Cramping or Pain
- Certain Types of Limb Pain
EMG: What is Learned
After we conduct an EMG we find that the results of this procedure are often vital to help correctly diagnose or rule our a number of serious medical conditions such as:
- Diseases affecting the connection between the nerve and the muscle, such as myasthenia gravis
- Muscle disorders, such as muscular dystrophy or polymyositis
- Disorders of nerves outside the spinal cord (peripheral nerves), such as carpal tunnel syndrome or peripheral neuropathies
- Disorders that affect the motor neurons in the brain or spinal cord, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or polio
- Disorders that affect the nerve root, such as a herniated disk in the spine
Patient: What To Expect
The following explanations can help you understand what will happen during the exam:
- Electrodes. The neurologist or a technician places surface electrodes at various locations on your skin depending on where you’re experiencing symptoms. Or the Dr. Sharlin may insert needle electrodes at different sites depending on your symptoms.
- Sensations. The electrodes will at times transmit a tiny electrical current that you may feel as a twinge or spasm. The needle electrode may cause discomfort or pain that usually ends shortly after the needle is removed.
- Instructions. During the needle EMG, Dr. Sharlin will assess whether there is any spontaneous electrical activity when the muscle is at rest — activity that isn’t present in healthy muscle tissue — and the degree of activity when you slightly contract the muscle.He will give you instructions on resting and contracting a muscle at appropriate times.
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