Electromyograph (EMG)

Electromyography (EMG) is a test performed using an electromyograph, which is a tool that uses the electrical signals within muscles to help detect potential nerve damage or a pinched nerve. The electromyograph can be useful to detect several conditions within the spine that could cause painful symptoms.

How is an EMG procedure used?

During an EMG, electrode needles are inserted into the muscle that is connected to the pinched or compressed nerve.

As the electrodes are inserted, a medical specialist will monitor the electrical activity within the muscle on a video monitor, through an audio speaker or both. The way the muscle responds during insertion can provide clues about the health of the connecting nerve.

Measurements of electrical activity will then be taken while the muscle is at rest and contracted. A healthy muscle produces little to no electrical noise when relaxed. Tiny muscular movements during moments of relaxation and accompanying noise might indicate nerve damage.

What does an EMG diagnose?

A nerve conduction study (NCS) may be employed simultaneously with an electromyography. The NCS measures the ability of the nerve to conduct electrical signals to the muscle. The spinal conditions an EMG might be used to help diagnose include:

Electromyography is one of several tools your physician can use to diagnose the cause of neck pain or back pain. If you are diagnosed with a spine condition causing your pain, your doctor may recommend treatment options to help you find relief.

Treatment for neck or back pain

Many patients are able to find relief from mild to moderate neck or back pain through a series of conservative treatments. Conservative treatments focus on relieving pressure from the pinched nerve to reduce symptoms while avoiding surgical intervention.

Common methods of conservative treatment include:

  • Pain medication
  • Physical therapy
  • Low-impact exercises
  • Yoga and stretching
  • Weight loss
  • Corticosteroid injections

These treatments are often effective after several months, though some patients may not find lasting relief and are recommended for spine surgery.

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive alternatives to traditional open neck and back surgery. To date, our procedures have helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain. To find out if you are a candidate for one of our procedures, contact Laser Spine Institute today and request a no-cost MRI review.*