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AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:29 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Does a negative EMG mean you don't have radiculopathy even if you have neck, shoulder and arm pain.


  • Andrea,
    I'm no expert but from what I've gathered after my EMG a negative reading doesn't mean you don't have it. What it means is that there is no nerve DAMAGE. My neuro said it would not tell if I had a "pinched nerve", as he called it. Hope this helps.
  • Thanks for replying. Yes, this does help.
  • My surgeon told me that emg's are not always conclusive. He said they can send false positives and false negatives. His belief was that you have to rely on other testing as well as physical exams and the symptoms. Many docs will follow a emg with a discogram. My surgeon was not big into that test as it also does the same with the false positives and false negatives. So the emg, is in my opinion, another tool for the doctors to use for purposes of diagnosis. So yes you could still have radiculopathy and it not be showing on the emg.
  • Thanks tamtam for your answers. I know that I have the symptoms but I just wasn't sure if the negative result would make me look like I am a nut case. My mri clearly states moderate to severe foraminal stenosis, but negative emg.
  • Can you tell me what a EMG is?:/
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,848
    is one of the different tests used to identify spinal problems. The EMG (Electromyography) is a test to determine the conditions of the nerve roots associated with various disc levels.
    The test itself is done by having the patient hooked up to a machine using some electrical leads. The doctor will then use different levels from the machine to determine Nerve damage. The patient will feel pulses ranging from small jerks to medium size pulses. The entire test takes about 15-20 minutes. For the most part, it is not uncomfortable. Some people do not like even little electrical jerks. I have had some EMG's that use deeper probes that resulted in some pretty good jolts. No harm or damage is done though.

    Spine-Health has an article:
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Thanks for the information. My pain management doctor said that if these epidural injections do not work, then he sending me back to the neurologist. This information will be helpful! :H
  • I have not had a NCV or EMG yet. I would say that it is in my near future. My symptoms are progressing and I'm really tired of it. My MRI said that there is no nerve damage, but I have all the symptoms. I have mild central protusions in my C3, C4, &C6 Mild to moderate central and anterior protrusion at C5, and Moderate to severve discs degeneration at C7/T1 with anterior deformaties. My neurologist sent me to a pain doctor for epidural injections. I am going to have my third injection March the 24th. I am currently taking Tramadol 50 mg and Zanaflex 4mg. Neither of them help. My neck is feeling as if it is going to get stiff right now and my head and arm in hurting in between tingling.

    I just want some relief! I would like to feel great so I can be more active with my children.

    Yesterday my sister in law asked me to help her move a couple peices of furniture and I had a hard time lifting with my right arm. I was so embarrased. I worked as a nurses aid for 4 1/2 years and I could lift 200 people with ease.:(

    Thank You for talking to me. I really need someone to talk to that understands me! :H:
  • They said that there is noticed weakness on the right side. Everyone thinks I am too youg for this not to have an injury.

    As far as the nerve damage, I just go by what he told me. Honestly I believe that they are missing something.
  • The EMG I had took an hour, and was quite uncomfortable. But the neurologist who did the test had me flex my neck and curl up into a ball while he put the probes in my neck muscles, ouch!
    I have bad symptoms and keep being told no surgery yet. Since last april. I just got a new Ortho spine guy and he sent me for another mri and emg. I see him again tommorrow. Hopefully he offers some answers. I am so aggravated. I am almost a year into conservative management and things are getting worse not better.
  • I know what you are talking about when you say conservative and getting worse. Maybe this new doc will help you! Good luck!
  • Mine has went backwards. 1 PT, 2 MRI, 3 Injections and medication.

    I am tempted to find a new doc.
  • Mt steps over the past year have been 1.pt with traction 4-5 days a week for a month and then 2-3 days a week for another month along with nsaids and 2 courses of oral steriods and wearing a hard philadelphia collar intermittenly. All with limited results. 2.I just recently had my 4th steriod injection in the past year and results a re now less helpful than the first two. I see a pain mangement doc for the shots. Since last year I have seen two neurosurgeons and two OS. The NS says mri not bad enough for surgery. One of the OS said thoracic outlet syndrome and today I saw the other OS who sent me for the new mri and emg. Today he said emg is showing carpal tunnel and that he would do the surgery but told me it was 50/50 going to relieve my symptoms. He was kind of a jerk. Said my mri protrusions were mild and I said yes but the foraminal stenosis is severe and he said well thats where we would do the surgery. I am lost at this point. Can foraminal stenosis look like carpal tunnel on an emg? I have no carpal tunnel symtoms. I do have weakness and drop thing alot but that also be from the foramen. Any suggestions?
  • Also I told the OS that I have bad shoulder pain, he said well maybe you have a shoulder problem. I was like what? I know I don't have a shoulder problem because I've had shoulder surgery on my right and I know the difference in the type of pain I am having. I asked him if carpal tunnel can cause neck and shoulder pain as well and he said yes. Also, the office tried to reschedule my appt today before I went, they told they did not have my emg results and wanted me to come tommorrow. But I wanted to see him today because tommorrow I have an appt with my pcp. When I went to the appt they seemed to rush me in and out and he was talking to me like he was in a hurry and told me about the preliminary results of carpal tunnel. He was being kind of a jerk and seemed like I was holding him up with all my questions.
  • OK. So last night I was soooo confused about everything. I googled neck pain and carpal tunnel syndrome. After much reading different web sites I came across the teleemg site as there was someone with my same questions. This lead me o another link on double crush syndrome. After I started to read about it, it made so much sense and paralled my exact situation. I spoke to a chiropracter about this who I had worked with in the past (double crush seems to be more accepted in the chiropractic community)we discussed my mri findings,emg findings and symptoms. He firmly believed that this is my situation. I also had an appt with my pcp and we talked for a long time about my situation, mri,emg,other surgeon opinions, symtoms, etc. I actually printed info on double crush to give her. She also believes this could be real. She is now sending me to a new neurosurg/neurolog in the city that she knows and is highly recommended. She said she was going to speak to him personally. Well, atleast I feel validated and maybe I am going in the right direction now!!! For people with foaminal stenosis//radiculopathy who get diagnosed with carpal tunnel, which surgery is done first is of upmost importance. You need to fix the source first.
  • I am glad that you talked with your doctor about it and it came out with some better news. I hope all goes well with you and keep us informed about the new Neuro. =D>
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