What Is an Electromyography?
Electromyography, or an EMG, is a kind of electrical test. An EMG is designed to find out where there might be nerve damage in a person’s body. It is particularly useful for locating nerve damage in a patient’s arm, leg, neck, or back. Nerve damage be a result of conditions that cause muscle weakness, such as muscular dystrophy and nerve disorders.
How Does An EMG Work?
Essentially, an EMG replicates your body’s natural process. In your body, nerve cells send signals to your muscles, which causes electrical activity in them. This activity is what makes the muscle tighten or contract, which is what causes the actual electrical activity.
During an electromyography, a needle electrode is inserted into the problem area. The needle transmits whatever electrical signals are coming from the muscle, allowing the doctor to diagnose whether the patient is suffering from one of three conditions. An electromyography can diagnose:
- Diseases of the muscle itself
- Diseases of the neuromuscular junction
- Diseases in the nerves and nerve roots
Since the transmission from the needle is readable on a monitor, the doctor can go over the results immediately and work with the patient to explain the diagnosis and what treatments might be available.
A lot of patients feel mystery pain. They come in with complaints that they have seen multiple doctors who used a number of different tests but always came back without an explanation for the pain. An EMG is a great tool to use in cases like this because it gives a different view of why the patient is so uncomfortable. An EMG is a unique test because it isn’t an imaging test. It allows the doctor to directly test the function of the patient’s nerves as well as give them a better idea of why they’re feeling pain and what they can do to get rid of it.