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EMG Testing/Nerve Conduction Study

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Sometimes further testing is needed to diagnose and treat you after you've met with one of our surgeons for your initial examination.

You may be referred to a neurologist or a physiatrist for electromyography (EMG) testing or a nerve conduction study.

About EMG Testing
An EMG (electromyography) records and analyzes the electrical activity in your muscles and is used to learn more about nerve functioning in the arms and legs.

During an EMG, the physician conducting the test places small, thin needles in the muscle and records electrical activity.

You may feel some pain or discomfort when the needles are inserted.

When they are removed, you may experience soreness and bruising, but this will disappear in a few days. There are no long-term side effects.

About Nerve Conduction Studies
Nerve conduction studies are often done with an EMG to determine if the nerve is functioning normally.

The physician will tape wires (electrodes) to the skin in various places along the nerve pathway and stimulate the nerve with an electric current.

You may be startled initially, but the stimulation is not painful and most people are comfortable during the procedure.

The shock is similar to one received when you touch a doorknob after walking across carpeting.

As the current travels down the nerve pathway, the electrodes capture the signal and time how fast it is traveling.

By stimulating the nerve at various places, the doctor can determine the specific site of injury.

Nerve conduction studies also may be used during treatment to determine patient progress.

These diagnostic tests are used by your surgeon to determine further treatment as they can accurately determine injuries to nerves and nerve roots as well as nerve and muscle diseases.

They are not used to relieve your pain or its intensity.

Pre-Testing Instructions
If you are taking blood-thinning medications, have lung disease or are at risk for infection, please tell the physician conducting the test.

On the day of the test, please do not put any lotions or creams on the area to be tested and do not wear any jewelry.

* Information on this page has been compiled by the American Society for Surgery of the Hand.