Here are the differences, in a nutshell, between two common diagnostic tests used to identify disorders that involve the muscles and nerves: electromyography and nerve conduction studies.
Electromyography records the electrical activity of muscles when at rest or when contracted to determine muscle health.
During an electromyography, a pin with a tiny electrode is inserted into the muscle to be tested. The pin is connected to a special recording device. You will be asked to make a series of movements that will cause the muscle to contract. The machine recording the results will deliver a series of audible clicks corresponding to muscle movement.
The test is painless, except for a slight pinprick when the pin is inserted into the muscle. While the test isn’t painful, you may experience slight discomfort during the contractions, which may feel like cramping.
Nerve Conduction Study (NCS)
A nerve conduction study examines how well your motor and sensory nerves are working by measuring the speed of electrical impulses through the nerves. An NCS is used to identify nerve damage.
During an NCS, the target nerve is stimulated with the use of electrode patches applied to the top of your skin. A mild electrical impulse is delivered, which stimulates the nerve. The resulting nerve activity is recorded by the other electrodes, as is the speed of the nerve signals.
There is no pain associated with a nerve conduction study, though some patients report feeling a sensation that is similar to a static electricity shock. The tiny shock is brief, lasting only a few seconds.
An NCS is also called a nerve conduction velocity (NCV).
What to Expect
An electromyography and a nerve conduction study can be performed in-office, and typically takes less than an hour, depending on the area to be tested.
The results of an EMG and NCS can help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis as to the cause of your symptoms. Because nerves signal muscle movement in our bodies, a movement problem can be caused by problems with our nerves, muscles – or both. This is why, very often, doctors may recommend both exams be performed.
SC Internal Medicine Associates and Rehabilitation, LLC offers on-site diagnostic testing for certain neurological conditions. We expertly administer both electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction studies (NCS) in order to properly diagnose your condition. Don’t ignore symptoms that could point to a neurological disorder. Call us today to request an appointment. Our number is (803) 749-1111.