What is EMG Test? How is it done?
EMG (Electromyography) is a nerve system test. This test is a method used to measure the electrical activity of muscles. EMG is used to determine the normal movements of muscles or pathological conditions that occur in muscles. This test is used to determine how strong the muscles are or to determine any sensitivity that occurs in the muscles. EMG is used to measure the electrical signals injected into the muscle with an electrode. These electrodes are placed inside the muscle and measure the muscle’s electrical activity. EMG is used to determine muscle diseases, nerve damage, or other pathological conditions that occur in muscles. This test helps doctors identify and treat problems in patients’ muscle and nerve systems.
The EMG test first appeared in the 1920s. The first EMG devices were used to measure the electrical activity of muscles with electrodes and amplifiers and to measure the contraction and relaxation states of muscles. The emergence of the EMG test was a result of studies to understand how electrical signals are used in muscle movement. Understanding the role of electrical signals in muscle movement was an important step in the diagnosis and treatment of muscle diseases. This step led to the emergence of the EMG test used to identify and treat problems related to the muscle and nerve system.
EMG test is a process completed in several different steps. Generally, the following steps are followed for an EMG test:
- The patient performs the recommended muscles’ contraction and relaxation states by the doctor.
- The doctor places an electrode into the muscle to measure its electrical activity.
- The doctor uses an amplifier to measure and display the electrical signals.
- While measuring the electrical activity of the muscle, the doctor asks the patient to work the muscles in the contraction and relaxation states.
- After measuring the electrical activity of the muscle, the doctor evaluates the test results and provides a report to the patient.
EMG tests are usually completed quickly and are painless for patients. However, patients may feel a slight pain when the electrodes are inserted into the muscle.
EMG test is used to identify and treat problems related to the muscle and nerve system. This test is especially applied in the following cases:
- Muscle diseases: EMG test is used to diagnose muscle diseases by measuring the electrical activity of muscles. For example, it is used to diagnose muscle diseases such as myasthenia gravis, polymyositis, dystrophy as the cause of muscle weakness.
- Nerve diseases: EMG test is used to diagnose nerve diseases. For example, it is used to diagnose nerve diseases such as peripheral nerve damage, radicular syndromes, neuropathies as the cause of muscle weakness.
- Other problems related to the muscle and nerve system: EMG test is used to identify other problems related to the muscle and nerve system. For example, it is used to identify problems such as sensitivity in muscles, spasms in muscles, abnormal contractions in muscles.
EMG test is used to identify and treat problems related to the muscle and nerve system. This test is usually performed by doctors and can be requested during a physical examination. EMG test requires the person to work their muscles in the contraction and relaxation states, so it can be physically taxing for the patient. However, it is generally said that patients can do this process comfortably. EMG test is not a difficult procedure and is usually comfortable for patients. However, it is possible for patients to feel slight pain during the insertion of electrodes into the muscle or during the muscle activation process.
EMG test is generally a safe and non-hazardous procedure. However, in some cases, some side effects may occur during the test.
- Mild pain may be felt during the insertion of electrodes into the muscle.
- Some individuals may experience slight discomfort during the test.
- Due to the effect of electrical signals during the test, there may be temporary loss of strength in the muscles.
Despite all of this, serious side effects of the EMG test are rare and generally no permanent damage occurs in individuals after the test. Therefore, EMG testing is generally considered a safe and non-hazardous procedure. So far, no patients have been seriously harmed during this test. Additionally, EMG testing generally does not require any preparation, and is known to be a quick and relatively comfortable procedure.
Dr. Süreyya Ataus received medical education at Istanbul University Cerrahpaşa Faculty of Medicine between 1980-1986 and then completed neurology specialization training in the Department of Neurology at Akdeniz University. During his medical career, he worked in Konya and Antalya, as well as at Üsküdar State Hospital, Özel Bahat Hospital, and Özel Silivri Kolan Hospital in Istanbul. Dr. Süreyya Ataus is currently providing neurological treatment services to patients in Istanbul with the Neuro Up Clinic team.