Does an EMG Test Cause Pain?


Quick Answer

Electromyography, or EMG, sometimes causes pain and discomfort, reports Healthline. Patients can request a break if the pain is too much. The test generally takes 30 minutes to one hour to finish.

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Full Answer

An EMG involves a nerve conduction study, in which the doctor tapes electrodes to the surface of the skin to examine the patient's motor neurons, and a needle electrode exam, in which the doctor inserts a thin needle to the muscles to assess the electrical activity of these muscles, explains Healthline. The patient lies down on a table or sits on a recliner during the procedure.

During the nerve conduction study, the electrodes send electrical stimuli to the patient's nerves, and a computer receives the information through waveforms, states Healthline. Patients normally experience a tingling sensation during the exam. The next part is the needle electrode test, in which the doctor sterilizes particular areas of the body and inserts needle electrodes, causing a bit of pain. These electrodes examine electrical activity while the muscles are at rest and contracting. The computer interprets the electrical activity through waveforms and sounds.

While soreness and bruising sometimes occur at the areas being tested, an EMG poses a very low risk of an infection, notes Healthline. Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever usually helps relieve the pain.

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