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What exactly is EMG/NCS testing?


    EMG refers to ElectroMyoGraphy.  NCS refers to Nerve Conduction Studies. Electromyography and Nerve Conduction Studies are routinely performed together as both are required to accurately diagnose most conditions affecting either muscle or nerve function.

    Nerve Conduction Studies (NCS) involve stimulating several nerves in either the arms or legs and then measuring how fast and how well the nerves conduct their signals.  Electromyography (EMG) involves gently probing several muscles in either the arms or legs with a small needle and measuring how the muscles respond electrically.  Although at times this examination can be uncomfortable, discomfort is less common when the test is performed by an experienced physician like Dr. Stoll.


Why might my doctor order an EMG/NCS examination?


The most common reason to order an EMG/NCS exam is to identify the exact location and severity of injuries to nerves in the neck or low back (radiculopathies).  EMG/NCS testing is also performed to help determine where nerve compression injuries (such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome) are located in the arms or legs.  EMG/NCS testing can also efficiently determine  whether a patient has an injury or illness affecting all of their nerves as may occur with diabetes, vitamin B-12 deficiency, or toxicity to the nerves.  An EMG/NCS exam can also diagnose diseases which cause muscle weakness (myopathies).

    Many patients have numbness, tingling, pain, weakness and/or muscle wasting (atrophy) in their arms or legs that is thought to be related to their nerves.  In these cases, EMG/NCS can be very helpful to quickly find and diagnose the underlying cause.

How should I prepare for my EMG/NCS examination?


There is actually very little you need to do to prepare for an EMG/NCS exam. Perhaps most important is to simply bathe the day of the exam and DO NOT apply any moisturizing lotion on your skin.  You should wear loose clothing, short sleeves, and/or short pants that allows easy exposure to your arms and legs.  You may eat and drink normally prior to your exam.  You may take any and all prescribed medications including blood thinners and pain medications.  This exam is also safe for patients with implanted electrical devices such as cardiac pacemakers.

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