Electromyography (EMG)

What is electromyography?

Electromyography (EMG) is a test that looks at how muscles and nerves work together. Nerves carry messages to and from the muscles. If the nerves or muscles are damaged, the muscles might not work properly.

EMG can tell the doctor these things:

  • if your child has a problem with the nerves or muscles
  • why the muscles feel weak, stiff, or painful
  • where the problem is: The problem might be in the muscles, the nerves, or the place where the muscles and nerves meet.

This page explains what happens during an EMG test. Use this information to explain to your child what will happen, using words your child can understand.

Getting ready for an EMG test

You and your child do not need to do anything special to get ready for the test. Your child can eat and drink as usual before this test.

EMG is done at the hospital

EMG is usually done in a hospital. It is done by specially trained doctors and nurses. Most hospitals will let you stay with your child during the test.

What happens during an EMG test

The test usually takes up to 30 minutes.

Your child will lie on a comfortable bed. The doctor will put a very thin needle that looks like a wire into 1 to 4 different muscles. The needle will stay in each muscle for about 30 seconds. If your child can, the doctor or nurse will ask your child to relax the muscle and then tighten the muscle. The number of muscles the doctor will test depends on your child's problem.

The needle is connected to a computer. The computer will record what each muscle does.

The doctor and nurse will always tell you and your child when and where they will put the needle. Putting the needle in the muscles may hurt a little, just like it does when your child gets a regular needle.

After an EMG test

Your child can go back to her usual activities right away. The muscles that were tested might hurt a little for a short time after the test.

Key points

  • EMG is done to find out how well the nerves and muscles work together. The test can show if there is a problem with the muscles, the nerves, or the place where the muscles and nerves meet.
  • Small needles are put into 1 to 4 muscles during the test. The needles may hurt a little.
  • The test takes about 30 minutes.

Jennifer Boyd, RN, MHSc, CNN(C), MSCN

Jiri Vajsar, MD, MSc, FRCPC

11/6/2009
 




Notes: