Frequently Asked Questions

Understand More About EMG

How long will these tests take?

The tests usually take 20 to 90 minutes depending on the extent of the problem. Patients can engage in typical daily activities, like eating, driving and exercising, before the tests. There are no lasting side effects. You can also do your normal activities after the tests. Some medications, like pyridostigmine, can interfere with certain portions of the test so make sure not to take them the day of the exam. Also, drugs used to thin the blood may limit the extent of the testing. Make sure to tell your doctor if you are taking any of these.

What if I can’t tolerate the test?

The majority of patients tolerate the procedure without complaint. Most of the time, the EMG doctor or technician can make minor adjustments to relieve or stop any patient discomfort.

How should I prepare for the tests?

Tell the EMG doctor if you are taking aspirin, blood thinners, have a pacemaker or defibrillator or have hemophilia. Take a bath or shower to remove oil from your skin. Do not use body lotion on the day of the test. If you have myasthenia gravis, ask your EMG doctor if you should take any medications before the test.

Who does the testing?

An appropriately trained doctor will do all needle EMG testing. A trained assistant or technologist under a doctor’s supervision can do nerve conduction studies. 

What kind of medical training do EMGs physicians and technicians have?

Doctors who do EMGs go to four years of medical school then have an additional 3-4 more years of training in a residency program. Some even do another 1-2 years of specialty training dedicated to EMG. Most work as neurologists or physical medicine and rehabilitation doctors. Medical training helps the doctor decide which tests to perform based on your symptoms. It teaches doctors what can go wrong with the human body and how to tell the difference between these problems.

When will I know the test results?

The EMG doctor will discuss your test results with you or send them to your regular doctor. After the exam, check with the doctor who sent you to the lab for the next step(s) in your care.