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Electromyography: Diagnosing Nerve and Muscle Conditions

June 22, 2020 | Jordan Manlet, RN, R.NCS.T

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Beginning June 25, Fisher-Titus will be offering Electromyography clinics. There are two parts of the clinic: needle EMG and Nerve Conduction Studies. These diagnostic tests evaluate the health of muscles and nerves and can assist in finding nerve dysfunction, muscle dysfunction, or issues with nerve-to-muscle signal transmission.

These procedures are done to help determine if a patient has a nerve or muscle disorder. EMG results can help diagnose many conditions including:

  • Muscle disorders such as muscular dystrophy or polymyositis
  • Diseases affecting the connection between the nerve and the muscle, such as myasthenia gravis
  • Disorders of nerves outside the spinal cord (peripheral nerves), such as carpal tunnel syndrome or peripheral neuropathies
  • Disorders that affect the motor neurons in the brain or spinal cord, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or polio
  • Disorders that affect the nerve root, such as herniated disk in the spine

There are many common symptoms that indicate these and other conditions that may prompt your doctor to order an EMG. These can include:

  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle pain or cramping
  • Certain types of limb pain

If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should talk to your doctor about your concerns. They can determine whether you may need an EMG and can refer you to the EMG clinic at Fisher-Titus.

During a nerve conduction study, electrodes are applied to the skin to measure the speed and strength of signals traveling between two or more points. The electrodes are placed in various locations on your skin depending on where you are experiencing symptoms. These electrodes will read and interpret tiny electrical currents, transmitted by the healthcare professional, that you may feel as a twinge or spasm.

In a needle EMG, the neurologist will assess whether there is electrical activity that should not be there when the muscle is at rest and the degree of activity when you slightly contract the muscle. To do this, they will give you instructions on when to rest and when to contract a muscle. During a needle EMG, a needle electrode is inserted directly into a muscle and records the electrical activity in that muscle. The needle may cause discomfort or pain that usually subsides after the needle is removed.

After the EMG, the neurologist will interpret the results and send them to your primary care provider or the doctor that ordered the test. They will then discuss the results with you at a follow-up appointment.

About Jordan

Jordan Manlet, RN, R.NCS.T is the Director of Emergency Services and Neurosciences at Fisher-Titus. Fisher-Titus Electromyography clinics will be offered twice monthly beginning June 25. Tests and studies will be read by a board-certified Neurologist. If you are experiencing symptoms of a nerve or muscle condition, talk to your primary care provider about Fisher-Titus EMG clinics.