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What is an electromyogram?

An electromyogram (EMG) is a test that is used to record the electrical activity of muscles. When muscles are active, they produce an electrical current. This current is usually proportional to the level of the muscle activity. An EMG is also referred to as a myogram.

EMGs can be used to detect abnormal electrical activity of muscle that can occur in many diseases and conditions, including muscular dystrophy, inflammation of muscles, pinched nerves, peripheral nerve damage (damage to nerves in the arms and legs), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), myasthenia gravis, disc herniation, and others.

Return to Electromyogram (EMG)

See what others are saying

Comment from: Thomas, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: October 16

I had an electromyogram today and found it a very unpleasant experience. The electrical jolts were unpleasant but not painful. The needles they stuck into the sides of my hand, however, were terrible. They were fine going in, but when they started moving them around it got very painful.

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Comment from: KateyB, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: September 27

I couldn't believe all these comments I read, they really scared me! I went and had a nerve test and electromyogram done today on both arms. Nothing to be scared about! The needle they use is so tiny, and the nerve test isn't bad at all. It is no worse than hitting your funny bone lightly. No pain after, no bruising, no swelling. And I am a wuss! So please don't be scared. As long as you go to someone good, you'll be fine! There are way worse tests out there. This is the least to be worried about!

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Comment from: PPSpatient, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: September 27

I had the nerve conduction velocity (NCV) which I believe is the painful test everyone is commenting about since they are using electrical current to measure the response of your nerves. It was a test my doctor warned me would hurt but was needed to confirm post-polio syndrome especially affecting my legs. Significant nerve damage was found and the test, which at times made me want to cry, was the most uncomfortable test I have ever had. At one time, I told the technician who was consistently increasing the voltage to try and get a response in one place, to stop or I was going to get up and leave. She moved on to the next place. But it wasn't just the electromyogram, it was the NCV.

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