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Why does one need an EMG/NCS?


An EMG/NCS are electrodiagnostic studies often used for patients who have back pain, neck pain, numbness, tingling, weakness, or muscle cramping in the hands, arms, legs, or feet.  The purpose of the studies are to localize where your symptoms (i.e. pain, numbness, tingling, etc.) are coming from and assess the severity of your symptoms. 


What is an electromyography (EMG)?


An EMG studies diseases of the nerves and muscles.  The test helps that doctor determine if the muscles and nerves are functioning properly.  The results of the test will help the doctor determine what is wrong and how it can be treated.  This is done by inserting a small, thin needle into several muscles to see if there are any problems.  A new needle is used for each patient, and it is thrown away after each test.  There may be a small amount of pain when the needle is inserted.  Only the necessary muscles are examined to decide what is wrong.  The doctor will look at and listen to the electrical signals that travel from the needle to the EMG machine.  The doctor will subsequently interpret these signals.


What is a nerve conduction study (NCS)?


An NCS show how the body’s electrical signals are traveling to a nerve.  This is done by applying small electrical shocks to the nerve and recording how the nerve responds.  These shocks cause a quick, mild tingling sensation.  Several nerves may be tested.


How long will the test take & how should I prepare?


The test usually takes approximately 30 minutes.  Normal activities such as eating, driving, or exercising are acceptable before and after the tests.  There are no side effects from the tests. Take a bath or shower prior to the tests to remove oil from one’s skin.  Do not use body lotion, gels, or creams on the day of the test. 


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