The EMG test consists of two parts. The first part is called Nerve Conduction Study. During this test brief electrical shocks are delivered to your arm or leg to evaluate the status of the peripheral nerve fibers by recording how well small electrical impulses travel through the fiber nerves.
Your nerves work something like an electrical wire, similarly to a wire in the wall switch that turns on a light. If you want to see if the wire is functioning properly, the easiest thing to do is to run electricity through it. Injury or disease to the nerve or nerve fibers can impair this electrical transmission and you will know it by a failure of the current to go through.
To determine if there is damage to your nerves, Dr. Mir will attach a small recording electrode to the surface of one part of your limb, and will touch your skin at another point with a pair of electrodes delivering the shock. You will feel a tingling sensation that may or may not be painful. As there are several nerves in each extremity which need to be tested, the procedure is repeated 3 or 4 times or more per extremity studied.
The amount of current delivered is always kept at a safe level and is not harmful. Patients wearing pacemakers or other electrical devices need not worry since this current will rarely interfere with such devices. This test is used to diagnose conditions in your extremities only. It does not repair or fix damage done to nerves and muscles.
In preparation for the NCS, you should bathe or shower the night or morning before the test so that the skin areas are clean. You should not apply any lotions or oils to your skin, as these can interfere with the recording of the electrical impulses. You can take all your regular medications on schedule prior to the test. We suggest that you wear loose-fitting, comfortable and easily-removed clothing for any office visits with us, and we would suggest that the ladies not wear panty hose. You will be able to resume all your usual activities immediately after your test.
The tests usually take 20 to 45 minutes. You can perform any of your normal activities, like eating, driving, and exercising before the tests and you can also resume your normal activities after the tests. There are no lasting side effects.
Dr. Mir will discuss your test results with you during your visit. After the exam, a copy will be sent to the referring doctor’s office for their files. You will need to check with the doctor who sent you for the next step in your care.
Doctors who do EMGs go to 4 years of medical school then have 3 or 4 more years of training in a residency program. Medical training helps the doctor decide which tests to perform based on your symptoms. It teaches doctors what can go wrong with the human body and how to tell the difference between these problems.
The American Association of Neuromuscular & Electrodiagnostic Medicine’s policy is that an appropriately trained doctor should do all needle EMG testing. Dr. Mir is trained and has years of experience in conducting these tests. A trained assistant or technologist, under a doctor’s supervision, can do nerve conduction studies.