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What to Expect During Your Electromyogram

When you want to move a muscle, it starts with the thought or intention. Your brain then carries out this command through your nervous system, signaling the nerves that control the muscle you want to engage. If there’s a problem in this signaling system, it can interfere with your muscle control. To determine whether there’s a problem and where it lies, we turn to electromyography.

At Physical Medicine Institute, Dr. B. Sam Tabibian and our team pride ourselves on providing the most advanced electrodiagnostic tools available, including electromyography. This quick-and-easy test provides us with critical answers that help us restore your function and relieve your symptoms.

In the following, we explore why you might need an electromyogram and what to expect during the procedure.

Finding answers

When you come see us with problems that have no obvious explanation, our first step is to determine the source of your symptoms. 

When it comes to symptoms of your nervous system and your muscles (collectively called neuromuscular symptoms), here are a few of the more common complaints:

With electromyography, we measure electrical activity and muscle response to determine the health of both your muscles and the nerves that control them. In doing this, our goal is to identify the problem so that we can get you on the road to relief more quickly.

Undergoing an electromyogram

If we decide that electromyography will give us the answers we need, here’s a brief look at what you can expect during this electrodiagnostic test.

To get started, we place electrodes on the surface of your skin, and then we insert needle electrodes into your problematic muscles. Depending upon the extent of your symptoms, we may place several needles into different areas of your muscles. These needles are designed to register electrical activity, which we can see on a display called an oscilloscope.

With the needles in place, we typically ask you to engage and rest the muscle so that we can record the activity. In some cases, we may stimulate your muscle using the surface electrodes. This stimulation isn’t painful, but you may feel a tiny spasm.

Once we gather the information we need, we remove all of the electrodes and you’re free to return home.You may feel some soreness at the needle-insertion sites, which is easily resolved with some ice and over-the-counter medications.

What next?

It’s impossible to say what you can expect after your electromyogram, as it depends entirely upon what we find. Rest assured, electromyography provides us with valuable answers that guide us moving forward, so it's a test well worth taking.

If you have more questions about what to expect during an electromyogram or whether this test might benefit you, contact our office in Sherman Oaks, California, to set up a consultation.

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