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Why Would I Need an EMG?

Apr 04, 2024
Why Would I Need an EMG?
Your nervous system makes up your body’s communication network, and conditions that affect it can limit basic functions or become life-threatening. Read on to find out how an EMG can help to diagnose these issues.

The intricate latticework of nerves and spinal cord that runs throughout our bodies controlled by our brain make up our complex nervous system, the direct line of communication for our brains to control and regulate everything we do. The brain and spinal cord make up the vital central nervous system that is covered in cerebrospinal fluid and meninges and connected to the other nerves. Those other nerves (motor, sensory, and autonomic) make up the peripheral nervous system and are essential to a vast amount of things our bodies do, such as regulating body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, sensation, and muscle movement.

Nerve damage (neuropathy) can compromise these basic functions and lead to many different problems that affect your health. Properly diagnosing these issues is important to proper treatment, which is where electromyography (EMG) comes in. To better understand what it is and how it helps, let’s examine the basics of this screening, how it detects problems, and what it can help us diagnose.

Residents of the Norwood, Anderson, and Westside, Ohio, and Crestview Hills, Kentucky, area looking for answers about nerve conditions can find help with the expansive medical staff at Riverhills Neuroscience.

What is an EMG?

An EMG is a device that tests the health of your skeletal muscles and their controlling nerves to examine the communication between your central nervous system and your muscles. Musculoskeletal movement is the result of nerves sending signals to the related muscles, and performing electromyography is useful in determining motor nerve dysfunction.

It does this by measuring electrical flow through nerves before they reach the muscle and measuring the response of muscle to electrical activity as well as how much electrical activity muscle contractions create.

How does it work?

The procedure consists of two stages: the nerve conduction study and the needle EMG. The first part is performed by placing surface electrodes on your skin to assess how well motor neurons send electrical signals. These will be placed in whatever area signs of a neurological condition are present.

During the needle EMG part of the procedure, needle electrodes are placed in the muscle tissue to test muscle activity at rest and in contraction. The whole test should take between 30-90 minutes and the signals gathered will be translated into data we can use to determine possible problems in nerve activity.

What conditions can it help diagnose?

EMGs are generally used to examine nerve and muscle disorders that have symptoms like numbness, tingling, cramping, muscle pain, muscle weakness, and specific forms of limb pain. These can be indications of things such as:

  • Muscular dystrophy: The term for genetic conditions that cause muscle weakness that worsens over time.
  • Polymyositis: An autoimmune condition that leads to inflammation and muscle weakness.
  • Myasthenia gravis: An autoimmune illness that affects skeletal muscles and often targets the eyes, face, neck, arms, and legs.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome: Irritation or damage in the carpal tunnels in your wrists, causing pain, tingling, and numbness.
  • Peripheral neuropathy: A general term for nerve damage that can result from a variety of conditions.
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS): Otherwise known Lou Gehrig’s disease, a neuromuscular disease that affects talking, moving, and swallowing.

If you’re struggling with signs of a muscular or nerve disorder, an EMG can be essential to helping us determine the best course of action. Make an appointment with the team at Riverhills Neuroscience today to get this and other tests to help your nerve disorders.