Nerve conduction studies and/or an EMG test

Nerve conduction studies and/or an EMG test helps to determine whether you have a disorder affecting nerves or muscles. The tests are the most accurate way of checking for conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome, nerve root compression, peripheral neuropathies, or muscle diseases.

Preparation for the test

  • Avoid using cream or lotions on the day of the test.
  • Before the test begins please let the technician know if you are taking any blood-thinning medications.
  • Feel free to drive to the clinic – you will be able to walk or drive as normal, after the tests.

What does the test involve?

The procedure takes about 30 minutes. The technician will ask you some questions about your symptoms and explain the test to you. If you have any worries or concerns about the test, the technician will be happy to answer your questions before the test begins.

In nerve conduction studies the technician will attach small wires to your hand or foot and record responses to nerve stimulation.

The nerves are stimulated with a probe that gives small electric shocks. Your hand or foot may twitch or move when the electrical stimulation is applied, but the technician will warn you when this is about to happen and will increase the current slowly to minimise discomfort. Some people find this testing unpleasant, but most people have no trouble tolerating the stimulation.

Nerve conduction studies cause no harm or damage to the skin or nerves.

An EMG consists of an examination of the muscles with a needle. This part is necessary only for some conditions and may not be needed in your case.

The doctor will insert a fine sterile needle into your muscles to measure the electrical activity in the muscle. There are no shocks in this part of the test.

You will be able to hear your muscles working through the computer’s loudspeaker. The needle test may be uncomfortable however it doesn’t last long.

The needle EMG may cause some bruising.