EMG/Nerve Conduction Study

An EMG/Nerve Conduction study can help determine the cause of your spine pain. This test is specifically performed to identify if abnormal nerve function is present.

What happens during an EMG/Nerve Conduction Study?

The EMG (electromyography) Study tests for abnormalities in the muscle or the nerve going to the muscle. The doctor inserts a small needle into a muscle to record the electrical activity of the muscle. The electrical activity of the muscle is then fed into the recording instrument. The doctor analyzes the activity by looking at a signal on a scope and listening to the sounds of the activity through a speaker. This helps the doctor determine if there are abnormalities in the muscle or the nerve going to the muscle.

The Nerve Conduction Study tests how signals travel along the nerve, helping to isolate the cause of abnormal nerve function. The signals are made to travel along the nerve by applying small electric pulses to the nerve at one site and recording the response at a different place along the nerve. The small electric pulses cause a mild tingling feeling. The nerve response is picked up by a recording instrument and is then measured by your doctor.

Preparing for an EMG/Nerve Conduction Study

Inform your physician if you:

  • are using a transcutaneous nerve stimulator (TENS) unit
  • are taking blood thinners
  • have hemophilia
  • have a cardiac pacemaker

Do not apply lotion to the arms or legs on the day of the test.