Electromyography (EMG)

What is an EMG?

  • EMG stands for Electromyography.  It is a test that records the electrical activity that is naturally produced in your muscles
  • These tests are used to investigate a number of different muscle and nerve problems and it will assist your consultant in their diagnosis and management of your complaint or condition
  • The doctor performing the test will explain the procedure before starting.

What do the tests involve?

  • A fine needle is inserted into a muscle.  Recordings are taken with the muscle relaxed and when the muscle is tensed.  This takes a few minutes for each muscle
  • On arrival in the department it will be necessary for us to obtain your consent before your investigation begins.

Who will perform the test?

A clinical physiologist or consultant neurophysiologist will perform the tests.


Will I feel anything?

A fine needle is used for this test, and, although a sharp scratch is felt as the needle is inserted, the majority of our patients do not consider this test to be unduly uncomfortable.


How long will the test take?

Approximately 20-30 minutes but very occasionally longer.


Should I stop taking my medication/tablets before the test?

  • Do not stop taking any of your medication unless you have been told to do so by your consultant. However, if you are taking blood-thinning tablets such as Warfarin you should tell the doctor/clinical physiologist before the test starts
  • It would be helpful if you would bring a written list of your medication with you. 

Are there any after-effects?

  • The muscles tested may feel sore for a short time after the examination
  • After tests you will be able to continue your daily activities as normal, including driving.  These tests are not a treatment but will help the doctor to understand the reasons for your symptoms.

Are there any risks?

  • Please tell the doctor if you have a pacemaker or implanted device fitted, it is usually still safe to have the test but please bring details of your pacemaker with you to discuss prior to the test
  • If you have a cardiac defibrillator fitted you must telephone the department to discuss this as the test may not be performed
  • The needle may cause a small amount of bleeding, and there is a small chance of localised bruising.

What are the consequences of not having an EMG?

  • EMG is a well established method of helping doctors to diagnose and treat a range of medical conditions
  • Your doctor would not have as complete a picture as they require and hence you diagnosis may take longer and/or you treatment may not be the most appropriate.