Do you suffer from muscle twitching, weakness, numbness, or paralysis? What about sensations of burning, pinpricks, or sudden shocks of electricity?

If any of this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans suffer from muscle and nerve pain. It can be frustrating for some and devastating for others. It can negatively affect your sleep, mental and emotional state, and completely disrupt your life.

A simple, in-office test can help identify the problem. It’s called electromyography. Electromyography, or EMG, is a diagnostic test that physicians use to assess the health of muscles and the nerve cells that control them. The test measures the electrical activity of muscles and can find the cause of weakness, paralysis, or muscle twitching.

How does it work? During an EMG, a thin, unobtrusive needle electrode is inserted directly into the muscle. This records the electrical activity in that muscle while it’s at rest and while it’s being used.

Often, EMGs are performed with a nerve conduction velocity test (NCV).This uses electrodes taped to the skin to measure the speed and strength of signals traveling between two or more points in your muscles. The results can reveal nerve and muscle dysfunction or problems with nerve-to-muscle signal transmission, such as carpal tunnel or sciatica.

What does it feel like? You’ll feel some discomfort as the thin needle electrode is inserted into your muscles. But during the test itself, you’ll feel little (if any) pain.

Some patients report muscle tenderness for one or two days following the test. They may also have occasional, minimal bleeding from the EMG needle sites.

How to prepare for an EMG. You don’t need to do much to prepare for your EMG. Most physicians ask that the test area remain clean and lotion- or cream-free until the test is over. Aside from that, all you have to do is arrive to your appointment on time.

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