What is an EMG & When is it Useful?

Category: Back Pain, Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: August 18, 2014

emgThere are a lot of three letter acronyms in the medical field. From MRIs to CT Scans, to EKGs, keeping up can be incredibly confusing for a regular person without a medical degree. Today’s blog is focused on one of these acronyms in particular: EMG. Read on to educate yourself on this diagnostic test.

EMG Explained

EMG (short for Electromyography) is a tool used to diagnose conditions of the muscles and nerves. The device utilizes electrodes to detect and submit electrical signals transmitted from motor neurons to muscles.

During the test, a technician will place either surface electrodes or needle electrodes at certain locations (the exact locations will depend on your specific symptoms). These electrodes then submit small electrical currents into your muscles and also track any unusual, spontaneous muscle activity.

There may be minor pain and bruising from the needles used, but the test is generally pain-free. Your doctor will explain how to prepare for the test. If you have any concerns, bring them up before the EMG is performed.

When is an EMG Useful?

An EMG can help diagnose or rule out many conditions that impact the nerves and muscles, such as:

  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Disorders related to the nerves and muscles surrounding the spinal cord
  • Herniated discs in the spine
  • Sclerosis

Your physician may recommend an EMG test if you exhibit any symptoms that could indicate a nerve disorder like numbness, tingling, or muscle weakness.

If your doctor suspects that your symptoms of pain or numbness are stemming from a herniated disc in the spine, an EMG can be very useful in identifying the exact nerves that are being impacted.  Once these nerve roots are identified, your doctor can make a more accurate recommendation for treatment.

Talk to your physician about an EMG today if you believe you may have a herniated disc.

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