Looking for Primary Care services? Schedule online with an Iowa Clinic provider.

Skip to Main Content
Electrodiagnostic Medicine

Electrodiagnostic Medicine

Call to Schedule: 515.875.9885

Call to Schedule: 515.875.9885

Patient Information

Electromyography (EMG)

We would like to describe some aspects of the electromyogram examination so that you will better understand what is to take place.

Electromyography is a study to evaluate the condition of your muscles and nerves. This study is similar to EKG (Electrocardiography) in that both are studies of electrical activity of muscle. The EKG is a study of heart muscle; and the EMG is a study of a different type of muscles, such as those in the arms, legs, neck, back, etc. An EMG requires approximately 20 minutes up to an hour, and in some cases up to an hour and a half or more to complete.

A physician with special training and study in nerve and muscle disorders performs the examination. The doctor will remain with you throughout the examination until the test is completed. After the examination is complete, the doctor will make a written report to be sent to your physician.

The results may be discussed on the telephone as well for additional clarification, if necessary, for your physician.

The Examination

This may be performed sitting or lying down. In the examination, the patient will experience some discomfort, but no severe pain is produced, such as to cause tears, etc. The examination often consists of two parts. One part, in which the nerve is stimulated, may cause some muscles to twitch. Measurements can then be made of how fast and how well a nerve transmits (or carries) messages. In the other part of the examination, a thin pin is used to study muscles and their electrical activity. If the pin were any thinner it would not be able to penetrate skin or muscle. Therefore, the test is not as severe as receiving an injection (or shot). The study of the electrical activity of the muscles and nerves will be evaluated using a viewing screen on the EMG machine, as well as by a speaker so the doctor will be able to hear and see the results from the test.

No pre-medication or other preparation is required for the test. You do not need to discontinue any medicines for the test. Generally, it is helpful to have warm hands and feet for the test. Please tell the receptionist if they are not. No additional restrictions will be given after the examination, so you may drive your car and carry out other activities. Please continue to observe any restrictions your physician may have given to you prior to the EMG.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, please ask the physician at the time of the examination.

Back to top