Electromyography (EMG) 

Find out how EMG can be used to test the function of your peripheral muscles by monitoring their electrical activity

About

Electromyography (EMG) is used to measure and record electrical activity in the muscle when both relaxed and contracted. It can be used to detect symptoms of the following:

- carpal tunnel syndrome
- ulnar neuropathy
- nerve injuries
- peripheral neuropathy
- Guillain Barre syndrome
- evidence of nerve root lesions (cervical and lumbar radiculopathy)
- muscle disorders

Need to know

  • What happens icon plus

    You will be asked to lie down or sit on a chair, depending on the area being tested. A thin, one-use electrode needle is inserted into the muscle. The needle contains a wire that is attached to a measuring monitor. You'll be asked to tighten then relax the muscle. The electrical activity is recorded on the monitor. The electrode may be moved several times to ensure the activity is accurately recorded. The test lasts for about an hour and you may feel a repetitive tapping or tingling sensation. When the test is done, any electrodes are removed and the area will be cleaned.
  • How to prepare icon plus

    For the test you should remove any jewellery, as this will make it easier to attach the electrodes. You should also wear a top with short sleeves and a skirt or loose trousers. Avoid using any skin creams before the test. You may eat and drink normally beforehand, and it might also be helpful to bring a list of your current medications with you.
  • Afterwards icon plus

    The area where the needle is inserted may be a little sore. You may feel a numbness or slight tingling in your muscles for one to two hours after the test. If swelling persists, or there's an increase in pain, you should contact your consultant.

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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