What is Electrodiagnostic Medicine?

According to the American Board of Electrodiagnostic Medicine, electrodiagnostic medicine is the medical subspecialty that applies neurophysiologic techniques to diagnose, evaluate, and treat patients with impairments of the neurologic, neuromuscular, and muscular systems.

When your nerves and muscles are working properly, the nerves send and muscles respond to electrical impulses that tell them to function in a certain way. If your nerves or muscles are not working properly, it may be a sign the electrical signals are either not being sent or received accurately.

Electrodiagnostic medicine, using either an electromyography test or nerve conduction study, can help determine whether you have a nerve or muscle condition.

What is an electromyogram (EMG)?

An electromyogram (EMG) allows a doctor to study the electrical activity of your muscles. Fo​r this test a specialist will place small electrode needles into your muscle tissue to record and study the muscle activity.

What is a nerve conduction study (NCS)?

A nerve conduction study (NCS) measures the speed of electrical activity through your nerves. By attaching electrode patches to your skin on specific parts of your body, a doctor can stimulate and measure the electrical impulses of your nerves.

Both of these electrodiagnostic tests allow doctors to discover the underlying cause of your nerve or muscle condition, and prescribe appropriate treatment.

Conditions Diagnosed by Electrodiagnostic Medicine

Electromyography and nerve conduction studies aid in diagnosing a variety of nerve and muscle diseases including:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Focal nerve injuries
  • Muscle disorders, such as multiple sclerosis and ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease)
  • Nerve injuries in the neck and back
  • Neuromuscular diseases
  • Peripheral neuropathies, such as muscular dystrophy

What to Expect During an Electromyography or Nerve Conduction Study Appointment

Before arriving at your appointment do not apply any lotions or body creams as they can interfere with testing.

After you change into a gown, a technician will insert either small electrode needles or electrode patches on your skin, depending on the type of exam.

Your doctor may ask you to contract or relax certain muscles where you are experiencing difficulty, or shift positions during the electrodiagnostic test.

An exam can take from 20 minutes to an hour. Make sure you allow enough time when making an EMG or NCS appointment. Following the appointment, you will be able to participate in normal, daily activities.

Make an Appointment

Before scheduling an appointment, you will need a prescription from your health care provider. To schedule your electrodiagnostic services at one of our locations, call 412-647-5424​​​.

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