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Electromyography (EMG)

Electromyography (EMG, myogram, or nerve conduction test) is a neurodiagnostic test used to assess the health and function of the muscles and the nerves that control the muscles. It can be used to determine whether muscle weakness and loss of muscle strength are caused by a muscle injury or by an underlying neurological disorder.

EMG can be used to detect many disorders and conditions, including the following:

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease)
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Neuropathy
  • Sciatic nerve dysfunction



There is no special preparation required for an EMG. Patients may be advised to avoid the use of creams and lotions on the day of the test.


When a muscle is at rest, it is electrically "silent." When a muscle is contracted, it generates a variety of signals known as “action potential.” An EMG measures this action potential.

During an EMG, a needle electrode is inserted through the skin into the muscle being tested and the patient is asked to contract the muscle in some way. The electrical activity produced during the test is displayed as waves on an oscilloscope, and may be heard on a speaker as loud pops. The presence, size, and shape of the waves indicate the ability of the muscle to respond to nerve stimulation and can help diagnose nerve or muscle damage. The test normally takes 30 to 60 minutes to perform.



During the test, there may be some discomfort when the needle is inserted into the muscle. Following an EMG, the area may feel tender or sore for a few days.

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Dr. Raymond Rybicki

The materials provided at this site are for informational purposes and are not intended for use as diagnosis or treatment of a health problem or as substitute for consulting a licensed medical professional. Check with a physician if you suspect you are ill, or believe you may have one of the problems discussed on our website, as many problems and diseases may be serious and even life-threatening. Also note while we frequently update our website's content, medical information changes rapidly.

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