Electromyogram (EMG)

I'm having an EMG next week. I'm really scared which I know is a bit pathetic. :( Rheum referred me for this test to see if I have carpal tunnel or a trapped nerve in my neck. She thinks it's the former but physio is convinced it's the latter. At this point, I have given up caring. Anyway, I had no idea that it would involve them sticking needles into me! I will happily have blood tests and self-inject but needles under my skin?! Aaaaah.

Please can anyone reassure me and tell me it's not as bad as I am envisaging.

10 Replies

  • I've never had an EMG, so can't tell you about that. But I have had acupuncture loads of times, and found it remarkably painless and relaxing. There was a sensation connected with the needle being placed, but the therapist had made an effort to ensure I was relaxed first, and it wasn't unpleasant.

  • Never had one, just wanted to wish you good luck with it! Hope it's not sore! M x

  • I've had both EMG & NCS on both arms. I can't honestly say either were particularly pleasant but it certainly didn't hurt.

    From what I remember a needle with an electric wire was inserted into the area & I was asked to relax as much as possible. I was then asked to flex the muscle. I take it that the two readings shown on a screen tell the radiologist just what's going on. This was then repeated another 3 times. My muscles twitched of course which I found quite funny, particularly the first test, shocking too having no control over them! I was probably told to expect this but as it was in Spain & my h wasn't allowed to accompany me I likely missed it. I remember measurements being taken but unsure if this was for the EMG or NCS. In all it took just short of an hour.

    Hope this helps.

  • I had an SFEMG last year which is similar but takes longer and is more specific. The 'needles' are wire that is almost as fine as a hair. It wasn't as bad as the rummaging for veins of my monthly dMARD blood tests. Mine involved lots of needles in my eye socket - you'll be spared that but none of it was awful in any way.

    Best of luck for it and fingers crossed for some useful results. How are the respiratory investigations going, by the way? Clare x

  • Hi Clare,

    Thank you for asking and remembering. My chest x-ray was clear and my breathing tests were just about within the normal range. They suggested a repeat in 6 months but otherwise, feel my lungs are healthy. It was a huge relief! I saw a great respiratory consultant who wondered if my chest symptoms were linked to my Gastroparesis. I had not made that connection. Gastro reviewed me again and I have an oesophagus motility disorder; it's causing dysphagia. I can understand why the GPs assumed it was lung related. Gastroparesis is very poorly understood, especially in general practice. The new medication I've been given has helped somewhat but I am still struggling with solid foods. The tests showed that, for now, my stomach processes thickened liquids normally. If things continue/get worse, I will have to explore the option of a liquid diet. I am totally resistant to this and won't even entertain the suggestion at this point.

    Anyway, that was a ramble and a half from me! Hope you are well. :) x

  • Hi, I had this prior to my elbow replacement as my ulna nerves were trapped in the joint. The surgeon wanted to check the location of the nerves.

    Firstly, the needles are the size of acupuncture needles and you can hardly feel them. The electric shocks are weird and at times uncomfortable. Not painful though. I had a lovely doctor doing the test who spent his whole time apologising!

  • Hi, had this done last year prior to my Carpal Tunnel operation. Well worth it. I too was a little apprehensive, but it was fine. Good luck.

  • I've had this done too, and its not so bad. The needles definitely aren't painful - more like very fine acupuncture needles. If they do the test where they send a small electric current down your arm then that can get to feel a bit uncomfortable if they do a lot of them, but its only uncomfortable for the few seconds they do it, so bearable.

  • I also had this done before carpel tunnel and trigger finger ops. It wasn't painful, just a funny feeling when the fingers twitched, they measure how long it takes for muscles to react to the electrical impulse. From what I remember it was sort of like the feeling you get when the doctor does the reflex reaction when they hit your knee. Don't worry it isn't painful. X

  • Thank you for the reassurance.: ) It's not pain that bothers me, just the idea of needles. I probably should have mentioned that this anxiety is partly due to a bad experience I had with an acupuncturist who kept pushing me when I was saying that I was distressed and I cried like a blimmin' baby which was humiliating. However, it was the needles in my feet that was upsetting me so much and I hope I'll be better in my hands/arms.

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