Electromyography (EMG) Procedure Treatment

An EMG (electromyography) procedure is a test procedure used to study nerve and muscle function. There are two parts to the EMG (electromyography) procedure: a nerve conduction study and a needle exam for muscle testing. The nerve conduction study component of the EMG procedure involves stimulating the nerves at different points with small electric stimulation so their function can be measured. The needle exam component of the EMG procedure involves inserting very fine needles into several muscles. These needles pick up both normal and abnormal electrical signals given off by a muscle.

Animation: Electromyography (EMG) Procedure

The electromyogram procedure can provide information about the extent of nerve and/or muscle injury and can give some indication as to whether the damage is reversible. An EMG procedure may be performed when patients have unexplained muscle weakness to distinguish if the problem is in the muscle or if it due to nerve disorders. The EMG procedure can detect abnormal electrical activity of muscles and nerves that can occur in many diseases and conditions, including muscular dystrophy, muscle inflammation, pinched nerves, damage to nerves in the arms and legs (peripheral nerve damage) and carpal tunnel syndrome.

An EMG procedure is a well-tolerated procedure with minimal discomfort, and patients rarely need pain medication before or after the test. Although uncommon, risks of an electromyography procedure include infection, bleeding and nerve damage.


Last reviewed July 2013 by APM's Medical Executive Committee.