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Howard S. Taylor, M.D.
Brent A. Burroughs, M.D.
Harpreet Kaur, M.D.

Board Certified Physicians in Neurology
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Electromyography (EMG)and Nerve Conduction Studies (NCS)

NCV examEMG and NCS are two of the tests that neurologists frequently perform in the office.  What do they test?  Electromyography is a test that assesses the health of your muscles while Nerve Conduction Studies evaluate the health of many of the nerves that are located in your arms and legs.  These nerves either control muscles (motor nerves) or supply sensation to the skin (sensory nerves).

From your standpoint the tests are easy to prepare for.  Just use no creams, oils, or lotions on your skin the day of the test.  This will ensure that the results of the test will be accurate.  If you should forget to do this, it’s not the end of the world.  We can simply wash the skin before the test.

When faced with a test that you have never had before, you will want to know, “Will the test hurt and if so, how much?”  The answer to these questions is that yes, it will hurt a little, but not much.  Now, of course, you are wondering if you can really trust us on this issue?  Everyone has at least one vivid and unpleasant memory about having asked their doctor or nurse if the shot he or she was about to get would hurt and remembering that you were told that, yes, it would hurt, “but only like a little mosquito bite,” only to learn that the actual pain could have only been produced by a mosquito with a ten foot wingspan.

NCV testWhen having an EMG (the muscle test) a very thin needle coated in a Teflon-like substance is inserted into the muscle.  Yes, it sounds awful, and you can feel it, but you will be surprised how little it hurts.  Sometimes after the test has been completed the muscle or muscles that were tested may feel slightly bruised and occasionally there is a little bruising to the skin above where the needle was placed.

The nerve conduction study is performed with small electric shocks.  Once again, you feel the shocks but they are superficial and not too bad.

In general, we perform more nerve conductions studies than  EMGs.  The most common test we are asked to perform is the test for Carpel Tunnel Syndrome.  This test lasts no longer than twenty minutes and the shocks are mild.  Still worried?  If, after reading all these reassuring words you are still apprehensive about either test, please feel free to let the doctor know so he can put you at ease.  

carpal tunnel syndrome     carpal tunnel syndrome


East Portland Neurology