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Electromyography (EMG)

What is an EMG?

Electromyography (EMG) utilizes electrodes, devices that transmit or detect electrical signals, to evaluate muscle health and nerve cells known as motor neurons. EMG translates the electrical signals transmitted by motor neurons into graphs or numerical values, which can help diagnose muscle or nerve dysfunction or evaluate the degree of muscle injury.

What to Expect During an EMG

EMGs are relatively painless and pose few risks.  You can expect this procedure to last between 30 and 60 minutes.

During one form of EMG, a needle electrode is inserted into a muscle in order to control its electrical activity.  An EMG may also be performed by using surface electrodes taped to your skin to stimulate your nerves in order to gauge the speed and strength of electronic signals. Both forms of EMG are routinely performed during the same test, but in some cases, only muscle testing or nerve conduction is performed.

Uses of EMG Imaging

EMG is an important tool for diagnosing and treating:

  • Muscular dystrophy or polymyositis
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or polio
  • Herniated discs
  • Peripheral nerve disorders, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or peripheral neuropathies
  • Nerve and muscle diseases, such as myasthenia gravis

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