Many people living in the United States have neuromuscular disorders, which affect the nerves that control muscle movement. These types of disorders happen as a result of nerves becoming unhealthy or dying, which prevents electrical signals from traveling through the nervous system to your muscles.
Testing for Neurological Issues
If you've seen your doctor because of certain symptoms you've experienced, such as cramping, tingling, weakness, or pain in your muscles, they may have suggested you have an electromyogram to help diagnose your problem. This test can be very helpful in identifying the cause of problems you may be having with your neurons or muscles. It's often used as a diagnostic tool when you're using your muscles and when you're resting.
An electromyogram can also help your doctor tell whether your symptoms are caused by an injury to a nerve that's attached to your muscle or whether you may have certain neurological system disorders, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or multiple sclerosis.
What Happens During the Procedure?
An electromyogram is a simple procedure that's usually performed at a specific testing facility. In most cases, it's performed along with a nerve conduction velocity test, which can help your doctor further diagnose any nerve damage you may have.
The electromyogram portion of the procedure should only take about an hour, depending on how many areas of your body are being tested. There's usually no preparation necessary, although your doctor may ask you to avoid using any lotions or other creams on the day of your test.
When you arrive at the testing facility, you'll be asked to sit or lie on a clean examination table. Your doctor will insert very thin needles, called electrodes, through your skin and into your muscles at certain points along your body. These electrodes are used to record any electrical activity your muscles give off. You may feel slight discomfort when the electrodes are inserted into your skin.
After the electrodes are in place, you'll be asked to move the muscle that's being studied. Your doctor may ask you to do something as simple as bend your arm in order to see your muscle's electrical response. When you move, the electrodes will pick up on any electrical activity that's present, and that activity will be displayed for your doctor to see on a computer monitor.
How Long Will Recovery Take?
Because an electromyogram is not a complicated procedure, you should be able to return home the same day. Since your doctor inserts the electrodes through your skin, you may have some slight bleeding or bruising at the insertion sites. However, bruises should go away within a few days. If you have bleeding or bruising that gets worse or lasts for longer than a few days, let your doctor know as soon as possible.
It may take a few days for your doctor to interpret the results of your electromyogram. You may need to have a follow-up appointment to discuss the results and determine what type of treatment may be appropriate for you.
If you have any questions about electromyography, it's best to address them with your doctor before your procedure. Your doctor is your partner in your health care, and they can explain why this test may benefit you, as well as any factors that could cause your test to be performed slightly differently than usual.
Connect with a neurology specialist today to begin your journey toward answers.