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Awaiting EMG and nerve conductions studies ????

jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,372
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:54 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical

Can anyone enlighten me as to what they do and what it feels like.

Did the information that they collect prove useful?

Any tips to help?



  • at first it was ok .i hardly felt a thing but after about 20 minutes i felt sick and asked /pleaded with the technician to STOP .its like a TENS unit they put a band around your finger then they stick you with the other end of the system .i suppose that the needle is a positive electrode and the thing they wrap around your finger is the negative electrode .they read of a scale on the {TENS TYPE THING} to get the reading they require .its not painful at first but after a while it IS .!! on me they found i had TOS {that's thoracic outlet syndrome } and they found that the nerves were damaged i also had a doppler blood flow done .i have not had it done on my legs but i should imagine its similar to having your arms tested
    good luck
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • I have had several of them, to both diagnose and confirm nerve damage. Unlike Tony, I had a different effect with it. For the most part it is just some little pin pricks. Every once in awhile you get a little zap, but for the most part, the needle sticks I didn't feel. Now it might have something to do with having damaged nerves why I didn't feel much of it. Some have said they felt pain aftewards, for me is all it did was stir the nerves up a bit, which is my normal nerve pain.

    As far as being useful or not, EMG studies are funny in that they don't always pick up a pinched nerve. So it can send a false negative, but once it shows they know for sure it is there. I have had both legs and arms done. At this point and time due to the nerve damage in my arms it is really not useful anymore in determining further damage. But your doctor will use the test, physical exam and imaging to determine the right course of treatment for you. Good luck with it and keep us posted on the results.
  • I've had EMG/NCV tests on my arms and my legs, and I found the legs one more uncomfortable. I didn't find it too bad to start with, but it did get quite painful near the end of it, when they zapped my feet and ankles.

    It can yield some useful information, but from what I've heard it really depends on the skill of the neurologist performing and interpreting the tests. My doctor was able to confirm the 'polyneuropathy' that he'd suspected. Good luck!
  • It's one of the tests that shows if a nerve is being compressed in your back and what level and they may do a discogram after depends on your results. I have L4-5 nerve compression radiculopathy but was never accepted for surgery. I couldn't bear my first EMG with the Tech doing it as she kept zapping me looking for some nerve movement, the Neurologist thought I should see the Surgeon straight away but was sent to Pain Management.

    However just had one May 30th and it wasn't bad done by the Neurologist herself, I haven't got the results back yet. I practiced some deep breathing for the second test and find it helped. Best wishes. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • to say that there is a 2 month waiting list for the EMG/nerve testing. So guess what; it looks like I will be waiting - again! (|:

    Thanks for your experiences. :-)

    I really don't like needles, but figure if I can cope with lumbar fusion and recovery, I must be able to cope with these tests! :S

    I think that they will be testing my arms and legs.

    Also, has anyone had these tests for the thoracic spine? It seems like mine is screaming again and the neurosurgeon said he would check it out. (Not sure what he meant by that)

    I hope I get someone who is good at doing the tests, if they are going to stick needles in me and shock me, I do want it to serve a purpose! :''(

  • Jellyhall,

    I've had NCV/EMGs for arms/legs and full spine. Full spine only once. I don't mind being zapped, and don't mind needles, so the test was no big deal for me.

    I will say this, the EMG portion (the probe or as most of us describe - the needle portion) *I* only let the Neurologist conduct that part. My first study the tech did the whole thing, and screwed up the EMG. Too much money and results for screw ups. :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • but only on my arms!
    It was mostly my legs that I wanted to know what was causing the problems in.
    I was pretty sure that my arms were being caused by my neck, but what is causing my legs?

    The tests were ok. I wouldn't choose to go every week, but if I had to do it again, I would be more relaxed about it.

    My arms and hands were jumping about! :O
    We had trouble in getting a reading on my left hand, ring and pinkie fingers. That is where I keep getting numbness. The needles did make me bleed a bit, but it soon stopped.

    He said that I don't have any compression from my wrist or elbows, but that I do definately have compression in my neck.

    He said he had only been asked to test my arms. How frustrating, I still don't know what is causing all my symptoms in my legs. The doctor did say that it was probably coming from my neck.

    He told me that if I don't hear from the neurosurgeon in 2 weeks, to phone his secretary.

  • Jelly,

    I'm guessing they only checked your arms for now due to the neck being maybe their present priority? I'm glad that it did at least show more confidence that your issues are indeed from your neck. I drew the "joker" in my first EMG years ago - entrapment, neck, elbow and hand - 3 surgeries fairly well fixed that mess.

    If done right, I feel nerve studies to be a great tool. Happy to hear you are finally getting more answers. Now lets see what the NS has to say. Keep us posted woman!! *HUGZ*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • when I had the EMG/NCS it about killed me...had to stop... it was way tooo painful.

  • welcome to spine Health, and thanks for answering my post.

    I realised that for some people, these tests are very painful. The neurologist kept asking me how I was feeling and if I was ok while he was doing the needle test. He must have known that I don't like needles, because I didn't look. My husband however, who was in the room, did watch and said it looked awful. He felt that the needle went in a long way and hated the look of how the doctor moved the needle around in my muscle.

    I actually found that both tests weren't anything like the nerve pains that I get from my spine symptoms.

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