What are electromyography and nerve conduction studies?

Electromyography is used to evaluate the function of nerves and muscles. A small needle is placed into the muscle and an electrical current is passed through it to determine how the muscle rests and contracts and how the nerves are working. It can help to detect nerve disorders and muscle injuries and disorders. Nerve conduction studies are used to assess nerve function. Probes are placed along your peripheral nerves and the nerve conduction is recorded. The probes measure nerve activity at rest, with movement, and with sensory stimulation. It can detect if the protective sheath around your nerves is damaged or if there are other problems with how your nerves pass signals. Electromyography and nerve conduction studies can determine if you have a problem with your muscles and nerves but it does not treat the problem.

Am I a candidate for electromyography and nerve conduction studies?

You might be a candidate for electromyography and nerve conduction studies if your doctor suspects you have an entrapment neuropathy, peripheral neuropathy, radiating nerve pain, or a muscle disorder. Tell your doctor if you have trouble with blood clotting, have a blood dyscrasia, or an implanted device such as a cardiac defibrillator. You should not undergo this procedure if you have one of these conditions. Additionally, inform your doctor of any blood thinners you take.

How long will electromyography and nerve conduction studies take?

You will be awake and aware during the procedure. The EMG study can be uncomfortable. No special preparation is necessary for the electromyography and nerve conduction studies, but you should not wear any lotion on the day of your procedure and you will be instructed to remove any jewelry you are wearing. It will take place in your doctor’s office. You should be able to leave immediately after the procedure is finished.

How long will it take to recover from electromyography and nerve conduction studies?

Electromyography and nerve conduction studies are relatively non-invasive tests. As such, there is no recovery associated with the procedure. In fact, you can leave immediately following the procedure – no observation period is necessary. However, because this is a diagnostic test and not a procedure, you will also not experience pain relief following the test. After the test, your provider should have a better idea of the cause of your pain. From there, a treatment regimen can be discussed. This may include medication, physical therapy, or surgical interventions.


Kishner, S. (2015). Electromyography and nerve conduction studies. Medscape. Retrieved from http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/2094544-overview