EMG Information

EMG is an abbreviation for electromyography. This nerve and muscle test is usually performed with another test called a nerve conduction study (NCS). Very often, a physician will order an EMG/NCS to determine why a patient is suffering from pain, weakness or numbness. Common conditions typically related with an EMG/NCS include:

  1. Carpal tunnel syndrome
  2. Ulnar neuropathy
  3. Cervical radiculopathy (pinched nerve of the neck)
  4. Lumbar radiculopathy (pinched nerve of the back)
  5. Neuropathy (nerve disease)
  6. Myopathy
  7. Specific injuries to nerves as a result of trauma

This common and well-accepted test represents the standard for the evaluation of nerve and muscle testing. Unfortunately, like other areas of medicine, there has been an explosion of abuses and fraud which is not only expensive but causes patients more suffering.

Typically, this test should be performed by a neurologist or a physiatrist (physical medicine and rehabilitation). Preferably the neurologist or physiatrist should be also boarded in electromyography by the American Board of Electrodiagnostic Medicine.

EMG doctors are frequently called Electrodiagnostic Consultants. They must evaluate each and every patient and must perform the EMG portion of the EMG/NCS. These tests cannot be interpreted later and absolutely require that the physician be present on the same day of service.

Electrodiagnostic Consultants will often employ Certified Nerve Conduction Technologists to assist with the evaluation of each patient. These highly trained technologists will perform the nerve conduction study part of the exam. The physician typically will perform the EMG part of the exam immediately after the technician finishes the nerve conduction study. These studies are typically done on the same day and are complimentary, in order to determine whether or not a patient is suffering from nerve or muscle disease.

Very much like a stethoscope, the EMG and nerve conduction study is a tool that is used by a highly trained Electrodiagnostic Consultant. Much like a stethoscope would be viewed by a person who does not know how to use such a device, EMGs are useless in the hands of an untrained person. The EMG and nerve conduction study is an extension of the history and exam. The history and exam must be done by a physician who understands nerve and muscle disease. Tests must be done properly.

The Electrodiagnostic Consultant and the Certified Nerve Conduction Technologist must use standard and appropriate equipment which is called an EMG machine. The EMG machine is used to perform both the nerve conduction studies and the EMG.

Unfortunately, many patients receive EMGs and nerve conduction studies with the wrong type of equipment. It has been estimated that at least 25% of EMG and nerve conduction studies that are performed in the United States render no useful medical information.

Ask the team at EMG Audit to help you determine whether your EMGs are being performed by qualified physicians.

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