The second part of the nerve test is a needle examination and as the name implies, it involves a small, painless needle. There are no electrical shocks during the needle exam and the needles used are thin, fine and about one and a quarter inches long. The needle probe is only used as a recording device and is not used for injection purposes. Electromyography (EMG) records the electrical activity in the muscle cells directly. This test can help determine the cause or extent of muscle weakness, spasm, pain, inflammation or paralysis in the limbs, spinal area or even the face. Usually 5 to 6 muscles are sampled in one extremity.
A needle (an electrode) is inserted in the relaxed muscle and the muscle’s electrical activity is then recorded during needle insertion or movement, at rest, and also with muscular contraction. When this is done, you will be able to hear the sound of your muscle’s activity amplified by the EMG machine; it will sound something like radio static. The painful part of this section is when the needle is first inserted through the skin since all of the pain receptors are located in this area.
Once inside the muscle, the sensation is usually perceived as discomfort or pressure rather than pain. Dr. Mir does his best to limit the discomfort and pain. After the exam, the muscles that were tested may feel a little sore or reddened for a day or so. You can briefly apply ice to the tender areas to help reduce this discomfort. This test is used to diagnose conditions in your extremities only. It does not repair or fix damage done to nerves and muscles.
To get ready for the EMG test, you should have a bath or shower the night before or morning of the test, so your skin areas is clean – and don’t use any oils or lotions. You can take all your regular medications prior to the procedure. It’s also best to wear comfortable, loose fitting clothing (and advise against ladies wearing panty hose).
Also, tell Dr. Mir if you have a pacemaker, have hemophilia – or are taking blood thinning drugs or aspirin (like Coumadin®).
You’re attending an electromyography (EMG) test because you’re suffering from muscle cramping, tingling, numbness, pain, or weakness.
The tests usually take between 20 and 45 minutes. You can do everything as usual before the exam – such as driving, exercising and eating – and equally can carry on with your normal activities after the tests, which have no side effects.
Dr. Mir will talk about this during your assessment. Following the exam, a copy of the results will be sent to your referring doctor’s office for their records. You’ll then need to check with the doctor who sent you about the next stage in your care plan.
Professionals such as Dr Mir who do EMGs – attend medical school four four years, then have three or four extra years of residency training. Expert medical training helps your doctor decide which tests to perform based on your precise symptoms.
In accordance with the policies of The American Association of Neuromuscular & Electrodiagnostic Medicine – all needle EMG testing has to be carried out by a professionally trained doctor, such as Dr. Mir, who possesses years of experience in carrying out these tests. Nerve conduction studies can be carried out by a trained technologist or assistant under a qualified doctor’s supervision.