Recent Blog Articles

Electromyography and Nerve Conduction Studies (EMG)

Updated: December 06, 2019

What is the test?

Electromyography (EMG) tests analyze nerve and muscle electrical activity. Some types of electrical activity are normal, whereas some patterns of electrical activity suggest a disease of nerves or muscles. Nerve conduction studies are tests that are often used in combination with the EMG evaluation. For nerve conduction studies, the muscles and nerves are stimulated with small bursts of electricity to see whether the nerves and muscles respond in a normal way.

How do I prepare for the test?

No preparation is necessary.

What happens when the test is performed?

For the EMG, thin needles are inserted one by one into the muscles being tested. These needles are not hollow, and they are thinner than the type of needle used to draw blood. Each needle is attached to a wire that gives signals to a machine. The needle acts like an antenna to detect electrical patterns inside the muscle and the nerves that are attached to that muscle. Most patients find this test mildly uncomfortable.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.

Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.

  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »

I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.

Sign Me Up

Already a member? Login ».

Disclaimer:

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.