Tab Page – Diagnostic Tests – EMG – NCS


What is an EMG-NCS test?

  • An EMG-NCS, also known as “Electromyography and Nerve Conduction Tests”, is a test of the nerves and muscles of your arms / legs.
  • The EMG/NCS study examines the integrity of the peripheral nerves and muscles of the body.
  • The study does NOT examine the brain or spinal cord.
  • It is important to realize that you can have a nerve or muscle problem, even though you may not “think” you have any nerve or muscle problems.
  • This test does NOT measure pain.
  • You may have a normal EMG-NCS study, even though you have severe pain.

What are the different parts of the test?

The study is usually done in two parts:

  • NCS (i.e. “shocking” test) – which tests the nerve function
  • EMG (i.e. “needle” exam) – which tests muscle function

How long is the test?

  • Each EMG/NCS study varies from patient to patient, depending on what results are obtained. As such, the study may take as little as 20 minutes, or as much as 2 hours.

What is involved in the Nerve Conduction Study or NCS?

  • The NCS examines the nerves in your arms and legs.
  • This consists of attaching wires to the surface of your skin, and administering a small “shock” to see how well the nerves react and function. These result are monitored on a computer.

What is involved in the Electromyography or EMG?

  • The EMG examines the muscle activity in your body. This study consists of inserting a sterile, individually wrapped, needle into your various muscles and monitoring their activity.
  • These results are monitored on a computer. You will probably be stuck 5-7 times per arm or leg. There is NO shocking during the needle exam.

Is the test painful?

  • The “shocks” during the NCS are not painful, although they may feel slightly uncomfortable. The needle “sticks” during the EMG feels like a small ant bite, and can sometimes be uncomfortable, but not painful.

How do I prepare for the test?

  • Please notify the physician PRIOR to the study if:
      • you think you may have AIDS or Hepatitis, or
      • if you are taking any blood thinners, such as Coumadin or Aspirin
  • Please DO NOT use any Lotion or Creams on the day of the test. Such Lotions or Creams will make it difficult to perform the study.

What type of clothes should I wear for the test?

  • Please remove any watches or rings you might be wearing on BOTH your hands / fingers
  • Men – if possible, wear shorts and T-shirt.
  • Women – if possible, wear a loose dress and T-shirt.

When will I get the results of the test?

  • If you are an active patient of our office, then the EMG-NCS results will be discussed with you on your next office visit.
  • If you have come to our office only for the EMG-NCS, then the results will be sent to your referring physician within 48 hours.
  • Your referring physician will discuss the results with you on your next office visit with them.

Will the doctor advise me of any treatment options?

  • If Dr. Athni is actively involved in your care, then he will advise you of your different treatment options after reviewing the results on your follow up visit.
  • But, if you have come to our office only for the EMG/NCS, then your referring physician will have to counsel you on your treatment plan.
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