What is an Electromyogram (EMG)
An EMG is a neurodiagnostic test that measures the electrical activity of a muscle during contraction and relaxation. An EMG test generally consists of two parts: nerve conduction studies and a needle examination. Nerve conduction studies are useful in detecting nerve-related problems, such as nerve entrapment (for example, carpal tunnel syndrome), or more widespread nerve dysfunction. The needle examination is useful for identifying problems arising from a "pinched nerve" in the spine, as well as diseases of the muscles themselves. Both parts of the test are usually needed for the physician to obtain meaningful results. The results of this test help your doctor determine the cause of your symptoms and select the best treatment for you.
What happens during an EMG?
If you have symptoms in the shoulder, neck or lower back area, you will likely be asked to wear a gown. You will be asked to lie on an exam table, either on your back or stomach, depending on the areas to be tested.
Small, flat discs called electrodes will be taped to the surface of your skin. A small electrical current is used to stimulate the nerve. Since the level of electricity used during the test is very low (similar to that of static electricity), the test is very safe. Repeated small, short shocks of varied intensity are administered. The electrical activity will be recorded on a laptop computer connected to the EMG machine.
The second part of the test involves the insertion of a tiny Teflon-coated needle into specific muscles. Once the needle has been inserted into the muscle, you will be asked to relax and then contract (shorten) the muscle. The computer records this electrical activity also. Each muscle to be studied will require the insertion of a needle. The stimulation of the nerve and the prick of the needle will be slightly uncomfortable, but lying still and remaining as relaxed as possible will help.
The entire test can last anywhere from 15 minutes to one hour or more, depending on the number of areas to be tested. Your diet and activities should not be affected by the test. A technician will be with you throughout the procedure. The results of the nerve conduction study and EMG will be interpreted by one of our neurologists and a report will be sent to your physician or discussed with you at your next neurology appointment.
How should I prepare for an EMG?
No special preparation is necessary and you do not need to fast. We recommend that you wear loose fitting clothing and, if possible, do not wear any jewelry. Please let us know if you have had a mastectomy, take blood thinners or have a pacemaker. Medication is not necessary before, during, or after the test.
To schedule an appointment for an EMG at any of our primary offices in the Twin Cities, please contact our central scheduling at (763) 287-2300, option 2. We do need a physician referral prior to scheduling. EMG referrals can be faxed to (763) 302-4348 or emailed to
Minneapolis Clinic of Neurology - Golden Valley/Main Office
4225 Golden Valley Road
Golden Valley, MN 55422
Minneapolis Clinic of Neurology - Burnsville Office
Oak Ridge East Professional Building
675 East Nicollet Boulevard, Suite 100
Burnsville, MN 55337
Minneapolis Clinic of Neurology - Coon Rapids Office
3833 Coon Rapids Boulevard, Suite 100
Coon Rapids, MN 55433
Minneapolis Clinic of Neurology - Edina Office
3400 West 66th Street, Suite 150
Edina, MN 55435
Minneapolis Clinic of Neurology – Maple Grove Office
North Memorial Medical Office
9825 Hospital Drive, Suite 103
Maple Grove, MN 55369
The Minneapolis Clinic of Neurology provides inpatient EMG neurodiagnostic testing at Fairview Ridges Hospital, Fairview Southdale Hospital, Mercy Hospital, North Memorial Medical Center, Ridgeview Medical Center, St. Francis Regional Medical Center and Unity Hospital. In addition, we provide EMG services at most of the outreach locations that we visit. Please visit our outreach location pages for the services offered and contact information for scheduling at each of our outreach sites.