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EMG (Nerve and Muscle Test)

An electromyography (EMG) is a test that provides information about the health and function of the nerves and muscles in the arms and legs. The EMG is a valuable tool to diagnose the location and type of nerve or muscle disease, in order to establish an appropriate treatment.

A physician will order this test for the following reasons:

  •     Carpal tunnel syndrome
  •     Peripheral neuropathy
  •     Radiculopathy (pinched nerve roots)
  •     Muscle disease

     Click here to view the EMG brochure.

Location and Contact Information

To make an EMG appointment, please visit the Make an Appointment page.

Markham Site

We suggest parking in the main hospital parking lot, opposite the Link Lobby Entrance and Medical Office Building, when visiting diagnostic services.

Please go to the central registration desk on the main floor of Building A, before heading to diagnostic services on the second floor in Building B where you'll be directed to the EMG waiting room.

For more information on parking, please click here.

Care Providers

An EMG test is performed by a specially-trained neurologist.

What You Should Know

Our neurologist will ask for a brief description of your problem and why your physician asked for the investigation. The assessment will take longer if your physician has requested a neurological consultation in addition to the test.

Before Your Visit

Do not use lotions or creams on your arms or legs on the day of the test. Keep hands and feet warm for the test (wear gloves in the winter). Please do not wear perfume on the day of your test. Please wear comfortable clothing that will give easy access to your arms and legs. In some cases we may ask you to change into a hospital gown.

Please arrive 30 minutes before your test to register at the central registration desk in Building A. Please bring your health card and your requisition (if your doctor has provided you with one).

During Your Visit

This test will last approximately 45 minutes. However, some tests are shorter and in other cases it may take up to one hour.

There are two parts to an EMG, and we may perform one or both.

1. Nerve Conduction Study:

We will tape small surface electrodes to your hand, arm, foot or leg. We will then stimulate the nerves of your arm or leg with small electric impulses. This will feel like a tingle and the muscles may jump slightly. The neurologist will warn you of this.

2.  EMG/Muscle test:

We will insert very fine disposable needles just under the skin into the muscles of interest. We will ask you to relax and then contract the muscle beneath the needle. We will make recordings of the nerve and muscle activity in that area.

After Your Visit

An EMG has no side effects, but occasionally, a small bruise may develop at the site of needle electrode examination.

Results of your EMG test will be sent to your physician.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is an EMG ordered? Your physician would order this test for patients who have: carpal tunnel syndrome, peripheral neurolpathy, pinched nerve roots or muscle disease.
Does an EMG hurt? The nerves are stimulated with mild electrical impulses that give an unusual and surprising sensation (much like the sensation in the fingers experienced when you hit your elbow on a desk).
Are there needles involved? Nerve conduction studies are performed by placing discs on the skin. There are no needles for this test. Muscle testing involves inserting small needles into various muscles. A pinprick sensation is experienced. Muscle testing is only necessary in certain EMG testing cases.
Does the neurologist provide a consultation? The neurologist will provide a full consultation if requested by your physician. If this is not requested, the neurologist will only perform the EMG.
When do I get my results? The neurologist will provide you with your results at the end of the test. A full dictated report will be sent to your physician.

Additional Resources

American Association of Neuromuscular, Musculoskeletal & Electrodiagnostic Medicine – aanem.org