MRI, Nerve Conduction Study, and EMG Update
Update: This article was originally posted late 2008 - so advancements may have taken place to make the mentioned tests less invasive. I am not a doctor and I do not recommend taking my advice or anyone else's in the comment section on any medical issue. If your personal doctor feels you should have any test you should follow his or her advice. The purpose of this article is to offer my experience and opinion of the procedures.
A few years ago I began exhibiting numerous odd symptoms. My doctor and I both thought the symptoms to be neurological in nature. I underwent numerous tests to determine exactly what was going on with me physically. I had two MRI's, a nerve conduction study, and an EMG. I would like to share those experiences with you to help you better prepare for similar procedures.
An MRI is performed to differentiate between pathological tissues and normal tissues within the body. It is also used to monitor the neurological, cardiovascular, and musculoskeletal systems of patients. I had an MRI (magnet resonance imaging) performed about a year ago. As a matter of fact, I had two of them. I had an MRI of my brain and an MRI of my cervical spine. Both times, I had to lay on my back on a very narrow table that slid into a thin tube. The MRI procedure is completely painless but may cause mental distress to those who are unable to be in small, tight spaces for an extended amount of time. If you are one of the many people who is unable to tolerate small, closed spaces you can ask your primary care physician to give you something to help with anxiety during the MRI. For the MRI of my brain a small plastic "cage" that looked like a miniature milk crate was placed over my head. It did not cause any discomfort and I did not even realize it was in place once I closed my eyes. (My technician told me to close my eyes before she slid me into the tube to reduce anxiety and told me to keep them closed for the entire time I was in the tube.) I was in the MRI machine for an hour and a half for the brain scan. The machine made all kinds of strange noises in surround sound. Some sounded like a xylophone, others sounded like chartoon-ish aliens arguing, and others sound like the soft, rhythmic beat of a distant drum. The repetitive sounds actually put me in a semi-conscious state of mind when I focused on them too intently. The radiologist told me to stay completely still so I would not blur or mess up any of the images. Sometimes the noises in the MRI were so strange it was difficult not to smile or laugh, which made it even more difficult not to move. Don't confuse the previous statement to sound like I enjoyed the experience. Rather, I am one of those people who needed anxiety medication due to the small, cramped tube. I am also fidgety and it was difficult to hold still for so long. My second MRI for my cervical spine only took about 30 minutes and the machine made the same odd noises and I had to hold still again. I did not require medication the second time because I knew it would be for a much shorter duration.
Note: I do not have experience with these types of MRI's, but there are open MRI's for those people who do not fit into a MRI tube or who cannot tolerate being in the MRI tube.
The Nerve Conduction Study
The nerve conduction study has an ominous sound to me, like an evil scientist's experiment. The test name also makes me think of human torture techniques that must have been used on criminals in the dark ages. However, getting shocks of electricity sent through your nerves is not nearly as painful as one may think. A nerve conduction study is often performed to help diagnose issues with the nervous system. Electrical currents are used to measure the electrical activity traveling between your brain and your nerves. The current used is much less than what powers your home and the study only produces mild discomfort in my opinion. The feeling is akin to hitting your "funny bone" again and again in different areas of your body, depending on where the technician is placing the device that transmits the current. While indeed an incredibly annoying feeling, I was not in any pain during the procedure.
I had the nerve conduction study performed a year ago for peripheral neuropathy and I was terrified before I got to the appointment. However, the test was not nearly as bad as I had feared. The technician gave me a gown to wear and I had to lay flat on an examination table. The room was dimly lit and very quiet to ease my nerves, please pardon the pun. The technician rolled a cart over to the table and showed me the device she would use to stimulate my nerves and to measure the activity taking place between each nerve and my brain. The test was performed on both sides of my body along my arms and legs. The first series of currents were a mild tingle. As the test went on, the technician increased the current until my extremities were twitching with each shock. As stated earlier, the shocks did not hurt, not even at their strongest point. The feeling was weird indeed, but not painful. While having the test performed, I envisioned someone plucking each of my nerves like one plucks the strings of a guitar. After the test I did not have any lasting effects and I spent the rest of the day as usual, playing with my kids.
An EMG (electromyography) is used to measure the electrical activity of muscles. The test is used to diagnose maladies that affect the proper function and/or strength of muscles. A neurologist performs the test and inserts a fine, wire electrode through the skin and into the muscle using a long needle. If you have ever had a shot that hit the muscle, you know that it hurts like crazy. An EMG is no different.
I had an EMG a year ago, and before I went for the appointment I researched the topic on the Internet. I found medical information and procedures for the test all over the place. What I did not find, and what I was looking for, was a personal account of the test to help me prepare for it. After my test, I understood why I did not find a personal account. Surely all the neurologists spend their evenings finding such accounts and erasing them from the face of the Earth. Otherwise, nobody would ever have the test performed. Before I go further I want to say that if you are going to have the test and you are not prepared for the truth, do not continue reading this. An EMG does provide the neurologist with invaluable information if you do indeed have decreased muscle function and it can be an important part of your care.
Following is my personal account of having an EMG done. It is not nice, I am going to be brutally honest, and it may scare you away from the test if you are about to have one. Scaring people is not my intention at all. I simply want to provide information for people who truly want it. I was not prepared for my EMG because I could not find similar information. That said, even if I had found the information, I still would have gone for my test, because the information provided at the appointment was extremely important to my health.
The EMG I had was performed on the entire left side of my body from shoulder to foot, including my hand and arm. For the test, I had to change into a hospital gown and rest on my side, facing away from my neurologist. The first needle went into my calf. I could hear what sounded like an out of tune radio trying to come in clear. The neurologist turned the needle inside my muscle and it was very painful, but tolerable. The pain only lasted a moment before the neurologist pulled the needle out of my muscle. The second needle went into the outer arch of my foot and I barely felt it go in. I was later told the more muscle you have, the worse the EMG hurts. Evidently I don't have any muscle in that part of my foot. I don't remember where all the rest of the needles went, but I do remember getting one in my left hand and one in my lower back on my left side. If you are going because you think you may have carpal tunnel syndrome, don't worry too much about the EMG. The needle in my hand was placed into the meaty area between my pointer finger and thumb - and it didn't hurt much at all. While I do not have carpal tunnel syndrome, I have read that it causes the muscles in your hand to deteriorate. Keeping in mind the statement that the EMG needle hurts more when you have more muscle, it only makes sense that an EMG for carpal tunnel syndrome would not be very painful. However, the needle that went into my lower back is a completely different story. The actual insertion of the needle into the skin is not what truly hurt; it was every turn of the needle the neurologist made while inside my muscle that threw me into a panic. After what seemed like hours, but was really only seconds, my body reacted instinctively to the intense pain and my fist shot out at my neurologist. Luckily, I only made contact with the cart because my neurologist saw me coming and had time to roll his seat back. At that time, I decided I was finished with the test and my neurologist agreed with me. The test results came back within normal range, so I feel as though I went through the test for no reason and I hope to never have to go through the test again because it was the most painful experience I have ever been through. On the other hand, I am glad I had the test to rule out what was originally suspected.
It is my hope that this information gets to patients who feel the need to prepare for similar tests. I often ease my anxiety of something by learning as much as possible about that thing. Since I was unable to find honest and accurate information about the above procedures, it is my desire to offer that information to others.
Writer tremour and writer crump on January 26, 2017:
I am suffering from writer tremour . I haved already exemined MRI, EEG and NCV and NCV report is bylateral corpal syndram. Please tel me the suggestio . I am now taking premepex 1mg per day.
Phil on January 09, 2014:
Before I had my EMG I took a pain pill that l had for my bad back and I felt no pain in the 18 areas that were tested. That plus the doctor was good. FYI
monica on July 10, 2012:
After struggling with pain and going back and forth once every month to a pain clinic off and on for the past 5 yrs, my Dr. Has suggested a nerve test to be done. I have no. Insurance and when I did the doctors told me pain meds were the only way to go. I stay afraid and depressed all the. Time,my muscles ache, I have a bulgeing disc,spinal stenosis,and sciactica, but yet no one is taking me serious. The last mri I had a year ago whoever read the results doesn't think my disorder isn't that bad,however I wished they could live in this body for one week and then tell me again that its really not anything severe enough to exclude me from further treatment such. As an orthopedic surgeon, I'm trying everything I no to do to get some kind of insurance, I'm not suicidal but I now understand why people have killed themselves because between the pain and depression and Drs leaving you out in the cold to die just isn't right. I really could use some advice if anyone can relate to what I'm trying to say. Thanks,Monica
Sondra (author) from Neverland on April 16, 2012:
Hi Rach, I will keep you in my thoughts throughout tomorrow. Hopefully this will go smoothly for you. I've heard it can really depend on the doctor who performs the test.
rach on April 16, 2012:
i have to have an emg today and totally freaking out about it. i had one done when i was a kid but they only did it in my arm, aaaargh so so scared, but thanks so much for the helpful info.
Sondra (author) from Neverland on April 05, 2012:
Hi David Warren, my newest partner in crime (in a totally noncommittal way hahah). I appreciate another opinion on these tests from someone who has already been through them. Luckily for me these were a few years back and I have NOT gotten them done again (yes MRI no to the others). But it makes me very sad to know you deal with these tests on a more-than-once basis. As for the medical treatment pic, don’t some of the test just seem barbaric?! Thanks for reading David.
David Steitz from Nevada on April 05, 2012:
As a patient who has had all of the tests in this hub several times I feel qualified to tell you what a great hub this is! I have found that doctors that perform EMG and nerve conduction tests will vary dramatically in terms of how much physical pain is involved. I had to laugh when I saw the torture or medical treatment pic, as the first time I had those two tests I really thought it was torture. My current pain management doctor is phenomenal and a pro at making these tests the least painful as possible. Voted up and useful!
Sondra (author) from Neverland on April 03, 2012:
Hello Kelly, perhaps it is better that you didn't read this before...so it didn't scare you out of having the test!! But how sad to be in pain just to hold your darling. I hope everything heals quickly and you get good results back from the test.
Kelly on April 02, 2012:
I had an EMG today, wish I had read this yesterday :) I now have bruises on both sides of my hand, my almost 2 year old keeps wanting to be held and I about go through the roof in pain. I must have A LOT of muscle between my thumb and pointer finger. OUCH! Thanks for the info!
Sondra (author) from Neverland on March 07, 2012:
Hi Melinda, thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I’m sorry you had to go through these tests. It’s a pity your doctor’s office didn’t think enough to tell you about all the different things to avoid so you can get accurate test results! I don’t blame you for not going through the test again. It’s painful and it DOES cost a lot for your health care insurance. I hope the doc is able to set up something to help you regain feeling and minimize effects of the carpal tunnel.
Hello David, I would say I can’t believe the techs treated you that way but sadly I CAN believe it. He couldn’t find the panic button? Then no thanks I will come back another day when you’re a little more organized. As for shoving you in the MRI even when you voiced concerns – why didn’t they mention the option of an open MRI? Oy – I won’t even get started on this. What a mess for you all the way around. I hope the next time you go in you take meds to be more comfortable and the tech is a little more compassionate than your last one!
David Searles on March 01, 2012:
I had a MRI scheduled for a hospital in south central Vermont, anyone wishing to know just which one send me an email davidasearles at yahoo dot com. When I made the appointment I told them I would have a hard time lying on my back for any length of time - "oh we'll give you some pillows to put under your legs" I had no idea in advance of what to expect, you'd think they they could have a little booklet they could give you in advance! As the guy was sliding me in he told me that he we supposed to give me a button to push if any trouble occurred BUT THAT HE COULDN'T FIND IT so he pushed me in anyway. I'm a big guy, I have a hard time sitting in a regular airline seat, this was like putting a pimento into an olive, the top of the tube was literally 6 inches from my face. Lucky for me my back started to hurt right away and I realized that I wasn't going to be able to lay still for 2 minutes, let alone a half hour, and I screamed for him to get me the hell out of there before he started the damned thing. It was only afterward did he tell me that when they made they appointment they could have had my doctor give me some valium, or they could have even given me some right there I.V. had they known about it in advance. Truly, the mechanic who takes care of my old beat up car gives me and my car far more professional and personalized service than I got there. To me there is no excuse whatsoever for anyone to have to endure an enclosed MRI. (essentially it'd be like being locked in an empty oil barrel with about 4 kids beating on the sides of it with rake handles while you're in there!!)
Melinda on February 28, 2012:
I had an EMG this past friday and I cried through it the whole time. For over a year I have been wearing a carpal tunnel splint with increasing weakness, pain and numbness in my thumb, index finger, and middle finger in addition to shooting pains from my wrist to my mid forearm. I was only told not to use lotions when i came in. The test was awful and is something I will never do again. then the dr told me the test was negative!! I said negative how do you figure? My symptoms when you did your evaluation indicated and you said carpal tunnel now because of the negative results i have to start from square one again. she offered therapy to which i replied, and how is therapy going to help me regain the feeling and sensation in my fingers palm and wrist? to which she had no answer of course. Last night i was doing research on the so called EMG Test and found that 15% of all people get negative results when in fact they actually do have carpal tunnel syndrome. I also found that you should not intake caffine or nicotine before the test nor should you take ANY Centeral Nervous System Stimulants 5 to 6 days before the test. well i drank coffee that morning smoked a few cigaretts before the test and was taking my ADD/ADHD medication adderall the day before which is a cns stimulate. I researched my pamphlets i got from the hand surgery center and there is no mention of any of these factors. The stupid thing is the dr knew almost 3 months before i got the test that I was on that medication, that i smoke and that i intake caffine. Why was I not told about that? I feel like i went through all that pain last friday for nothing. Not to mention waste my healthcare benefits.
But I will not do that test again they can cut my hand off before i do that thing again.
Sondra (author) from Neverland on February 17, 2012:
Hello cclitgirl! I almost missed your comment DOH! I didn't hate doctors until I had to go through all these tests and then some. Now I am terrified of the doctor and have what is called "white coat anxiety". I had these tests a few years back so hopefully they arent so bad anymore. The EMG is the only one I couldn't tolerate EVER again. The other two? Not so bad
Sondra (author) from Neverland on February 17, 2012:
Melovy!!! I hope everything turns out to be alright. It really wasn't all that bad for the MRI - my advice is to close your eyes before you get slid in and then dont open them again until you are pulled out. Meditate, nap, come up with writing topics...anything.
Yvonne Spence from UK on February 17, 2012:
I am having an MRI tomorrow so this was very useful. It doesn’t sound too bad and I’m glad I’m not having an EMG! Thanks for this useful hub.
Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on February 17, 2012:
Wow. If I ever have to deal with medical stuff, I'm coming here to refresh my mind on what it's all about. This information actually helps to calm my nerves - I HATE doctors. :P Voted up and SHARING.
Sondra (author) from Neverland on February 14, 2012:
Hi Kristen :( I always hate hearing when someone has to go through tests. Then as if that's not bad enough to hear the tests were inconclusive grrr. I shared my experience here because I went through this same painful test and got inconclusive results. And if I had known how bad this could be I might not have gone through with it!! I hope you find out something to help you heal and recover. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment - I really like to know others are finding this helpful. Take care!
Kristen on February 14, 2012:
This has been really helpful with me and my hand surgeon. He sent me through a bone scan after I expressed great concern because I am VERY sinsitive to medications and some fruit. My surgeon did not take me seriously and made me do the scan anyway. Well I had a REALLY nasty reaction to the dye and it burned me so bad the vein it went through come to the surface of the skin and turned this almost black color for a week. Then my muscles started to twitch on there own.
I watched my husband do an EMG so that the doc could basically tell my husband it was a waste of time. Now my hand surgeon wants me to do that too because the bone scan gave him results that he was not even wanting. It showed NOTHING. Thank you for being honest about the EMG. SO far every test I have gone through I am worse when I get out of it. Thank you.
Sondra (author) from Neverland on February 07, 2012:
Hi Jennifer, first I am so sorry you have to deal with pain every night. Nobody should live that way. Second, I think you should still do the test. Even if you find out that the pain isn’t due to work you will be a step closer to figuring out why you do have the pain and that much closer to a treatment. I feel so badly for you but I take comfort in the fact that your boyfriend is understanding and supportive. I don’t know if the test can indeed pinpoint the time the symptoms started. Even if this is from an old injury the physical work may have inflamed an issue from before. Stay strong and hopefully someone with a medical background can answer your question more in-depth.
soscared on February 07, 2012:
Hi, I am commenting on the information you have given regarding the EMG Test. Thank you so much for this. I was told today that I was going to need one done on both of my arms and hands and possibly shoulders. I had no idea how bad this could really hurt until now, however, this is EXACTLY what I wanted to know, so again, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
I work for UPS as a Pre Loader (load the packages from the moving belt onto the "brown trucks" and this is a really physical job. Did I mention I was a female. And not one of those burly female types either, just a fit, 5'9" 44 yr old who is healthy, or at least I thought who wanted to get on with a Fortune 500 company for the long haul. Well that part accomplished, but now I am suffering from the intense, unbearable, throbbing pain in my forearms and hands; numbness in my hands, fingers and wrists that wont go away; and very when this happens my arms are very sensitive to anyone touching them anywhere at all. This happens every single night and has been for about three months now. I wake up in this "pain" and cry myself back to sleep because nothing makes it feel better.... Nothing. My boyfriend, bless his heart just holds on to me and hugs me every single time I wake up, sometimes even cries with me. Then falls asleep after I finally do, until I wake up again with the same scenario. But enough of the sob story...
Well, Im pretty sure its work related, but can't actually prove it until this test is done. Supposedly this test will reveal how long ago this muscle pain, burning and numbness actually started to develop i.e. from my job with UPS or before hand (no pun intended)?
Does anyone know if that is actually something the results will reveal, the date any of these symptoms started? The reason that I am asking, is because about twelve years ago I did have an episode where my hands were going numb from using my computer. But, it was nothing at all like what I am going through now. I would hate to have suffered from something like this test only to tell me that its NOT related to my job now. PLEASE understand, I am NOT out to try to get away with something. This pain and suffering in new, and very real. Something I have never experienced until now and it is restricting me from doing a lot of normal things. I just need to know what I am up against. Thank you to anyone and everyone who can answer my questions. And one more time, THANK YOU ARDIE for posting this very informative blog. Jennifer
Sondra (author) from Neverland on February 03, 2012:
Hi tsmog :) Everything is ok as can be. Thanks for asking. My diagnosis is explained in my Arnold Chiari Hub - a boring read hahah
Your story is hilarious! I wish I could've been there to see the nurse's reaction...not many people can lower their pulse! Quite impressive ;)
Tim Mitchell from Escondido, CA on February 03, 2012:
WOW, Ardie. Is everything OK today for you? What a powerful article. I was writing a hub on home, looking for your interview with the math whiz daughter - a friend, then came across this article. I had an MRI done once that I can remember, but I don't remember it. I had an EEG too.
Funny story real quickly. I told the tester / Dr / Nurse I could lower my pulse if she wanted to see with the thingy on my head. She said "suuuuuuuuuuuuuure" Then when I did she said I think we are finished now. LOL, never heard back on either test, so I figured I was still alive - smile.
Sondra (author) from Neverland on January 18, 2012:
I am not even close to being a doctor :) But from reading all these comments over the past few years I have come to my own conclusion that a couple things can determine the pain of the test. I think the skill of the doc and the the muscle condition of the patient can determine the pain level. I remember the nurse telling me she would end up with body builders who would literally scream out in pain from the test while little old women (probably with minimal muscles) could breeze right through it. All I really know for sure though is that I will request being put under before I ever do this test again. I wish for the best for you with the results.
Moni on January 17, 2012:
Hello Everyone, I had an EMG/NCV test today. I normally have a very high tolerance for pain. I have fibromyalgia, and I've had 10 sinus surgeries and 2 babies (one natural childbirth).I was even hit by a moving car. I am 38 years old, and I'm certainly no stranger to pain. I wish I could fathom why so many people didn't experience the excruciating hell I went through earlier today. It's not that I wish that kind of pain on anyone else, but I can't figure out why it's so horrible for some. Then for others, it was no big deal! The electrical current were by far the worst part for me.I imagine that is what it feels like to be struck by lightening. The sticking was unpleasant but much more bearable. I prayed myself through. This pain is right in line with the top 3 worst experiences of my life. the one experience that comes close was getting 3 teeth cut out without anesthesia. I would love for a doctor to respond and explain why the electrical currents were so strong. Was that dependant on how the machine was set, or does it depend on the condition of the patient? Even if you are not a doctor, if can answer this correctly, please respond.
Sondra (author) from Neverland on December 15, 2011:
Hello Marie, Im glad you're still going. The NCS wasnt so bad - I'd gladly get it done any day over several other tests out there! I hope everything turns out as well as you could hope when you have to tolerate such testing. I will keep you in my thoughts over the next weeks that you are healthy and can enjoy a happy holiday season.
Marie on December 14, 2011:
Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. I have been having so many X-rays and MRIs and ct scans. I am scheduled to have a bone scan and a nerve conduction study tomorrow and I was so frightened I was thinking of not going. After reading your article I feel much more at ease. Thank you so much for sharing.
Sondra (author) from Neverland on October 12, 2011:
Im glad to help. However, remember the NCS is not so bad. SO you may want to keep that appt for your own good. The tests are good when there is really something wrong and you need a diagnosis.
Sun on October 12, 2011:
I have an EMG and NCS tomorrow morning.there's seriously ZeRo info on these tests on the www!thank u for this website! Think I'm going to chicken out!
Sondra (author) from Neverland on October 06, 2011:
Hi Kristin, this is a little late coming but hopefully you will still see it. The Nerve Conduction Study wasn't too bad. The shock felt more like a twinge, like when you hit your funny bone. The EMG was the painful one and I'd rather give birth again without meds than go through that. But again - muscle tone plays into the pain level. The more muscle you have the more painful that specific test. My nurse told me she had body-builders sobbing over the test while little old ladies weren't bothered by it at all.
Kristin on August 17, 2011:
OMG!!! I have Radial Nerve Parsly and was concidering asking for a nevre conduction study. I think I'll give it 3 months to see if it wakes up before I go through what you all have gone through. Besides it will only confirm what they suspect it to be. I'm freaked out now!
Virginia Simpson on July 05, 2011:
I just had an emg with nerve conduction study and heard from coworkers how painful it was and read about other pooples' miserable experiences. I must have had the most skillful technician on earth. The shocks to my feet and legs were quite tolerable and the needles (27 gauge) applied to feet, legs and back were almost pain free. I guess some practitioners are more deft than others.
Phil on June 27, 2011:
I had an EMG on my arm and while it was being done my arm was bleeding so much the doctor began getting napkins to wipe the blood, which kept bleeding. He even gave me napkins when I left the room as I was still bleeding. Every time he put the needle in it hurt and it felt like he hit a bone. Very painful. In broken English he kept saying "Sorry, I didn't mean to hurt you." I had an it done on both arms and only the arm that had the nerve damage they were testing for bled and when he put the needle in the elbow it was excruciating. Since the EMG I had x-rays done and I have floating matters (bone, arthritis broken off?) in that arm. I am in constant pain. X-rays taken prior to EMG had no floating matters.
ester on February 28, 2011:
my son 18 had a car accident(passanger) 2 yrs ago. he had a disformed fractured wrist. dr did surgery plate and screws to fix the fracture. fracture healed but he has severe nerve pain now. they did a second surgery 1 yr ago to remove the plate, thinking that that is what is causing the pain. one year later his wrist along with arm (along the 6 inch ugly scar) still hurts. he had an EMG CNS done 6 months ago that came back normal. Can it be a medial nerve, pinched nerve damage, and can that be fixed with surgery? he does have a positive tinel test, but that didnt show up in the EMG. hes tried cortizone shots, gabapentin, lyrica, topamax. last resort would be another surgery, but if emg came back normal can drs still do surgery. the clinical exams came back positive for neuroma/ tinnel test. any advise greatly appreciated
gail on February 24, 2011:
suffering from peripheral neuopathy in my hands and feet for about 9 months now -- the dr. thinks it could be caused due to my spinal stenosis -- had the mri last week -- i've had about 5 -- so i knew what to expect -- just lay still, take a deep breath, and count the minutes...no problem. had the nerve conductivity and emg needle yesterday--the needle didn't hurt AT ALL! just a little neck muscle pain today... the dr. said they are new, super-thin, super-soft needles..the nerve test was also no problem. i had a wonderful technician... i go for my results on tuesday and pray he can give me some answers and successful treatment....these terrible symtoms have consumed my thinking and they are debilitating....the worst part of these tests was my unnecessary worry about them....this is a great site for info...appreciate it....
Glenn on January 17, 2011:
I have to comment having just had my first MRI and EMG as I am suffering from mild dizzy spells.
For the MRI I found out small spaces bother me. I was in the MRI for about 10 seconds before I was telling them to get me out of there. I thought it would be easy, I learned different. So they sent me for a short bore MRI and gave me a Xanax. The short bore MRI is much bigger around and open on both ends. It also took 12 minutes for the same scan the original MRI was going to take 30 minutes to do. The short bore MRI is great and much easier to handle.
I read this web page before going into my EMG. It had me quite concerned. I had decided that if the first needle hurt as much as it did Ardie that I would stop the test at that point. It did not. I have to say my Dr was very good, I felt a few small stings but it was minor. A lot of the pokes I didn't feel at all. They ran the test on both legs and the small of my back. I expected the tender back to really hurt. I didn't feel any of the needles on my back, I did just once because he touched my back and it tickled.
So my EMG took about 10 minutes and wasn't bad at all. So if anybody is going in for this test, I hope you have a great Neurologist like I did and you will make it through easy.
I also had the Nerve Conduction test. The electrical shocks were a little annoying but honestly, for me, didn't feel any worse than when the Dr hits you on the knee with his little rubber hammer to check your reflexes. I was actually having a good laugh during the test because I kept envisioning a dead frog in biology class where the frog leg jumps around when you give it an electrical shock. I was doing the same.
Thanks a lot Ardie for this page as I too was looking around for input from people who did have the procedure. I just wish it had of gone a little better for you.
Stacey Brister on December 14, 2010:
I'm not trying to scare anyone, honest. And I'm a scardy cat. I freely admit I am a 42 year old baby, sometimes. But, I can get shots, and give blood, get pap smear, plus I did have 2 babies, one with no drugs at all. But this shocking thing was not ok, for me, at all.
I went in today to have this and an EMG test to "rule out carpal tunnel". The Nerve Conduction Study was first. I was already really super nervous; then there was no way for my husband to help me the way we had planned, because there just wasn't enough room. I was planning for my husband to hold my hand and look into each other's eyes. Probably sounds stupid; but this was really important to me.
So, my husband sat acroos from the foot of the table I was lieing on. I was wearing one of those cloth gowns. The NURSE hooked up the electrodes to my left arm just above wrist, was going to test my median nerve first. I think 3 electrodes. I was feeling upset and I wasn't comfortable with this man, who I felt was being a bit impatient and unfriendly, and cold. The guy was telling me it's "nothing to worry about, you're making it worse than it is, calm down"...then he said he was gonna set the thing on "25"; and gave me the first zap. I hated it. It was scary, and I hated it. Then he set the thing to "40" and gave me the secong zap. I let out some deep moan type sound...it was horrible.
No Way, was I gonna be able to lie there and let him do this to me. I felt like he was torturing me. It felt awful. I was freaking out, and crying, and shakey...the guy said I didn't have to do it. He also said some people can't handle it. I got my clothes on, left strait away, and cried for at least 10 minutes on the way home, cause I felt abused...LOL!.
My advice would be to make sure a nerve conduction study, or EMG is even necessary. I don't feel my test was necessary. I believe I already know I have carpal tunnel syndrome. I know I'm not going to get CPS surgrey right now, because carpul tunnel is one of my minor problems. (They were also going to test my sciatic nerve, which of course didn't happen.) Anyway, I hardly ever have sciatica. My major problem is my back and my neck pain. I know I have DDD (arthritis of spine), and all my disks are dessicated. I was also diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 1998. I really don't know why the neurologist ordered this set of expensive tests. I considered canceling the appointment, but I decided to have it done, even though I was scared, just incase it showed something that would be helpful. I also read where people were denied the test and wanted it, so I felt kinda lucky to get it. Lucky, yikes!
ALSO, I have been reading and it seems they can set the voltage really low to start. I would have preferred this. That way it isn't immediately bad, and you can work up to it.
So, I don't know if there is just something wrong with me, physically or mentally, that caused such a bad reaction. I don't know if the nurse was doing something wrong, or if the machine went haywire, or what. I'm just saying that some people find this test intolerable. Obviously, most people are fine with it. If you need to get one; you will likely be just fine. And Good Luck :) Thought I'd share,
Lis on December 14, 2010:
After reading this article and some of the comments, I was so scared to go in for my NCS/EMG that I made myself sick. The procedure turned out to be so easy and pain-free that I kicked myself for worrying about it. A slight electric shock feeling in a very small area for a very short time. The needles were so small you can not even feel them go in and when they turned them I could barely tell. Really, it is not something to worry about! It's no big deal at all.
The nurse told me that people vary widely in how they experience the procedure, a few find it painful but most do not. So don't worry about it. Stubbing your toe is a lot worse.
Lis on December 13, 2010:
jean white, I just wanted to mention, if your bulging disk is pressing on the nerve and they can fix it to take the pressure off, it will, indeed, relieve the pain. I don't know why they need an emg for this, though.
Tim on December 12, 2010:
I had the test performed on one of my legs when RSD was suspected, and had the same experience . The needle burned tremendously in my calf, and when he started to twist it,...nevermind. I have to say that the last few shocks, the strong ones, were absolutely awful. When I was finished, I finally realized that tears were coming out of my eyes.
After all of that, I'm doing it again tomorrow morning, this time on my hands. I'm pretty sure I have carpal tunnel, but the test is to confirm. When playing guitar, my hands have gotten to the point that after only 10 or 15 minutes, they are completely numb. I eventually stopped playing, and it has been about two months that have past. Now, the night before the test, it has dawned on me that my hands haven't gone numb since then, and I'm concerned that I may go in there tomorrow, and since my hands haven't been giving me problems, that they will not find anything. I would hope that with today's technology, the machine would be able to find the problem, even if the problem isn't manifesting itself currently. I guess we'll find out soon enough.
s leigh on December 08, 2010:
i am having these tests done as well, but after reading, i feel prepared, but no one posted anything about results or treatment? what kinds of things can be done?
jean white on December 08, 2010:
I have fibromyalgia. Recently my left arm began to hurt from the shoulder down to the tip of my fingers...mainly my thumb. I can twist my arm to the right,but not the left. there is a burning sensation in the bend of my arm. My pain is very severe at night, only ice packs help. I had a MRI for my neck. It showed 2 bulging discs. Also had an ex ray and another MRI of only my left arm. The nuerologist now wants an EMG. I have 3 of these tests, and i do not want anymore. I refused to take the EMG. I still have a lot of pain. Should I get the EMG? What is the use? Can damaged nerves be fixed?
Ben on November 22, 2010:
I am having a ncs tommorow the imformation from you has been very helpfull now I know what to expect
UlnarNerveNoPainTest on November 08, 2010:
I had the EMG and Nerve Study done for my Ulnar Nerve problem today. They tell you what is happening, nice, and ask you to tell them if you can't handle it. It was a piece of cake. The electrode impulses are fine if you just relax! Let your hand "jump" on its own. The needles, if you can get a shot in your arm, you can handle this. It's been 4 hours and never any pain, just weakness in my whole arm from the tests. If you have the right doctor who knows what he is ding, this test will help you find the cause of your nerve issues.
susan dunne on November 03, 2010:
I am having a nerve conduction test in two days because of some severe burning and pain in my upper left thigh. Your information is the most helpful I've found and I'm now much more prepared. THANK YOU for taking the time to recrod all of this. It's well-written and it has really helped me.
Paul on October 10, 2010:
I had NCS and EMG tests carried out on my left leg yesterday, Im 44, male and work in the construction insutry. I had an accident in march of this year where I severed the ligaments in my knee, I have been in plaster for several months and since had to wear a full hinged leg brace. My problem now is the total loss of my quadracepts muscles. Consultant ordered the tests.
I had been pre warned by my Pysio what was involved so thought it better not to research the procedures.
Arrived at the neorosciences unit a little late and was greeted by a stubborn hard faced nurse who didnt take kindly to me being 5 minutes late. She waddled of muttering that she would speak with the doctor.
Here we go, Im not the worlds most tolerable to rude people but manage to hold my tongue, she returned and hurded me into the consulting room. I was greetd by a very small chinese man who uttered his name whilst tapping away on a computer keboard. Not once during the half an hour or so i was subjected to his torture did he look me in the eye. My understanding his jibberish broken english was unsettling, i offered him no polite response whatsoever. Whilst conducting his tests he managed to explain that this will hurt and that i must relax. Thrashing about like frankinstine, i could have walked from there at any moment, he kept uttering nearley finished relax please nearley done, YEA for that particular set of torturings not explaining that there was more to come. Im quite a hardy person pain doesnt bother me too much however its a different story when you know whats coming to you over and over.
I cant decide which was the worst, the shocks or the needles. maybe both as bad. At one point I told him in no uncerton terms to get on with it and make sure he got it right first time because I wouldnt be comming back for more. He understood me well then with a grin and a cackle.
My advice, if you need this test then you need it make damned sure it isnt your doctor just exploring all the options because he cant make a diagnosis, if something doesnt work or something is numb then thats a nerve problem, hard to fix. Do you really need this test to tell you what you already know?
I wouldnt have it done again, im no whimp but the whole experiience is stomach churning and painfull.
You should be anethatised during this process or at least sedated..
If you can manage then dont have it done, if your a masochist then of you pop.
I will be writing to the NHS authority regarding there use of small chinese men in such a position, a gentle and understanding nature is paramount for this position.
He certainly needed to be sent on bedside manner training
and as for his nurse assistant well nothing can be said.
TWHladyinLV on September 27, 2010:
I had these tests done a week ago and the MD performing the tests never asked me to move or contract any muscles after the needle was inserted during the tests. He basiclly stuck it in, looked at the screen then moved on to the next site. I don't know wether this MD was a quack or not
Cynthia on September 09, 2010:
I had the Nerve Conducton Test and the EMG done today at 10 AM and now it is 11PM at night. What am I feeling? I am feeling sore (not pain) in the calf muscles and in the lower back area. It feels as though I had bad charlie horses and they are just now relieving. I had the test for the sciatica nerve. The reason for the test is that I have numbness and pain in the right foot and also in the hip. I believe the pain in the hip is from me compensating for the foot. In the right foot, I have mortons neuroma and heel spur. The test took about 20 minutes total. It was conducted with me laying on my stomach first and then on my back. The Nerve Conduction Test wasn't too bad. It felt as if the Dr. kept hitting my funny bone and the electrical sensations kept running down my legs to my toes. Yes, it was uncomfortable and yes your legs do move a little involuntarily. After the nerve test was done, the EMG was done. The EMG was uncomfortable when the needles were inserted in my calves and also in my feet. It felt like the needle was large and dull as they were inserted patiently one area at a time but it was quick.
My doctor did have great bedside manners and that helped tremendously. He walked me thru each step with no surprises. He did tell me when he got to the inside and outside of my foot with the needle that it would hurt more than the calves. It did but it was over quickly. What got me thru this test today was MEDITATION. No I am not a meditation person but I went in with a clear mind set that I had to do it to find out what was wrong with my hip and foot and also I wasn't going to die from the procedure. Go into this procedure trying to relax and don't tense the muscles in the legs. Go in with a sense of calmness. In the past I had cortisone shots in the toes and on top of my foot believe me, the test that was performed today I would do it again if I never had to see another cortisone shot in the foot. Don't be afraid to talk to the Doctor and ask him questions before and while he is conducting the test. In my case I talked to the Dr. all the way thru the procedure. When he got to the last needle on the inside of my foot he made a quick discovery that I was fluent in Spanish. I am a GA country twang speaking person and I said a few ugly words in Spanish to try and let the pain come to the surface (I didn't know how to meditate in Spanish at this moment) only to find out that my doctor was fluent in Spanish also. Uh-oh, I did walk out of the office laughing so overall it wasn't that bad. Would I do it again, yes if it was necessary. Prior to the procedure I almost backed out and didn't go but I'm glad now that I did and it's over. I am very lucky there was no nerve or muscle damage. I still don't have a diagnosis for my hip and foot but at least we have ruled out a couple of issues.
Karen on September 07, 2010:
I had one of these tests today with the electrical currents and the shocks. I thought the shocks were bad in some areas of my legs others not that bad. Then I had the needle test. This hurt so much when they put the needle in the inside muscle of my calf. I almost kicked him out of reflex one time. He moved back in time. It feels like a bad charlie horse. Like a very bad type of cramping pain and then he makes you flex your foot and hold it for like 10 seconds while you are having this pain . The flexing makes it hurt even more. In some areas he had to take the needle out and move it over a little because I could not take the pain. He was going to do my back and more areas but said I think you have had enough and did not do it. I think the areas were normal he did do so maybe thats why he did not do more. I was dripping in sweat by the end and could barely walk. My muscles feel swollen sore and hard in my calf.
Jen on September 06, 2010:
I am glad that most of you did not have any pain or discomfort with your tests. However, I recently had a nerve conduction study done and it was not at all like described. I am wondering if the person administering the test did not know what he was doing. With an injury in my hand, looking at a book to figure out what he needed to do, he shocked me with a tremendous amount of electricity over and over and over again (my hand was kicking about 1 foot away from me). It was very painful and I could not take it. I requested that he stop, he just kept going (even though I was in tears). He then inserted a needle right into the most painful part of my injury, repeated the previous process of shocking me over and over again, AGAIN! My hand hurt worse after that and my muscles in my forearm have been sore ever since! Torture, yes! EMG, I think I will pass!
JODY on August 14, 2010:
I am so glad I ran on to this website. After my EMG, day before yesterday, I thought I was really being a wimp. I came home and went right to bed. No one had told me what this test would be like. However, the Dr. did suggest I take a xanax prior to testing. Thank heaven I listened. Without some sedation, the test would have been much more painful. Even with the meds I ask the Dr. on several occasions to stop for a moment. I was sore the next day, but feel quite well today. THANKS for all this information!
Shelley L on July 30, 2010:
I had the EMG and NCS today and was totally prepared for the worst after reading your article and the comments. Maybe my neurologist was really good at doing the test but I had no discomfort whatsoever. Could be that I am more tolerant to pain now after having 4 surgeries on my arms but I can honestly say that it was like a minor pinch and nothing painful at all. Such relief! A word to the wise though, be sure that you have a physician perform the test and that he's been doing them for many years. Mine in Baton Rouge, Dr. William Gladney, is awesome!
LA Patient on July 22, 2010:
Also a day late on my research, and I agree that someone must be removing descriptions of electromyography from the net or no one would ever agree to one. Incredibly painful and thank god I could not see what the doctor was doing or it would have been worse. Probably best that I did not know what it would be like. I appreciate your description simply for validation that I was not atypical in my reaction. That old Lamaze breathing rarely gets used but I needed it yesterday and wish I'd taken a painkiller before going in. Results were clear and it was a necessary evil but hopefully I won't have to ever have another done.
Sabra, RN on July 19, 2010:
Make sure not to take any kind of pain meds or drink 3 days before an EMG..it can alter the results.
Sequoia on July 14, 2010:
Thank you for this article, although I decided to do the research a day late, at least it helps to know that I was not being a wimp when I was shrieking during the EMG. It was the most painful test I have ever had and I was quite resentful after..for not being prepared LOL. Suffice to say I limped out of the office, limped into my car, limped out of my car, and went straight to bed and slept for 3 hrs. I had an accident 9mths ago and the last needle insertion was on my back in the sore spot caused by the accident. That one really HURT!! I told the doctor that and he remarked.."I Know, that's why I left it for last". So once again thank you, I have the MRI in a few weeks and hopefully I am not as claustrophobic as I think. Although he prescribed anti-anxiety medication.. I think I want to go through the experience fully alert!! have a wonderful day Ardie!!
J Shears on June 25, 2010:
I had a complete EMG and Nerve Study yesterday. By complete I mean Base of Skull to Feet. Both arms, hands, shoulders, complete spine, legs, feet, thighs, hips, neck. I had the electrodes and the needles. Parts of the tests were painful at times, and I am very sore today. But if you are thinking that you can not handle this test, you need to rethink. This test will provide valuable and possibly lifesaving information to my neuro about my symptoms. So please, if I can do it, anyone can. I am a 30 year old MOM of a 3 year old and I have a wonderful husband. I have everything to live for and if this test means that they get an accurate diagnosis then I say BRING IT ON! OH and BTW I am deathly afraid of needles, but I thought of my son's sweet smile and his little voice telling me that he loves me, that is all the motivation that I needed!! God Bless and Good Luck for anyone having these tests. You can do it!!!
Cle B on June 18, 2010:
Thanks to all for the candid comments. A couple of people in my office have had a Nerve Conduction Test and an EMG and advise me to see if there was a less invasive test they could do. I am thoroughly terrified now, but I have a doctor who, after 17 years has never steered me in the wrong direction. So, I am going to "buck up" as J Dub says and get this done. I would rather know and be treated for this pain in my leg than to have to live with not being able to sit, stand or walk for long periods of time. Thanks again.
j dub on June 16, 2010:
i had my test today, and though i appreciate the comments above, please realize that this test wasn't bad. if this is your first round of testing, yes it is tough, but there were no tears, screaming or punching. there wasn't really any blood.
i had the sticky electrode test and the needles from my buttocks to my toes.
a word to all, YOU CAN DO THIS! ask for xanax or something like that if you are nervous, but YOU CAN DO THIS!!!
j dub on June 15, 2010:
i have had more tests then anyone else above has listed. i have had epidurals, padendal nerve blocks in my pevlic floor and groin, plus six months of internal PT on my pelvic floor and my pain was gone. now i have a tingle in my foot and numbness in my leg. i am getting this EMG tomorrow and i am going by myself and will drive myself home. i lived with pain at a 9 for almost a year, can these needles really rival that? my doc said after what i have had done to me it should be nothing, but i am the average 30 year old woman who has not expereinced childbirth. i am petrified, but i am getting this test!!! sometimes you have to buck up and take the pain and if you trust your medical team like i do, you do what you have to do. your health is your responsibilty.
Jeanne on June 14, 2010:
I am scheduled for the EMT and NC tests on Wednesday - I appreciate finding this site with so many experiences shared. I like to be informed - and I have to do SOMETHING since I can't live with the pain in my leg and I hate taking pain pills to cope. I'll certainly add my two cents after the tests are done :) - again, thanks for the information - I appreciate the frankness!!
Gretchen B.S. on June 11, 2010:
I had the test done in my legs. I was so painful I told the doctor to stop. I have to go a second time. In two weeks. He will give me vicodin before tests are done. But one weird thing the day after the test where done on my one leg (before i told the doctor to stop) I have swelling and pulling of blood in my foot. I called the dr. and he told me to go to the emergency room. I did not go. I am an EMT (not that it is much, i still know anatomy). I know that it is not that serious to go to the emergency room (they have reel emergencies to deal with). The swelling in my leg is almost gone. But, it is weird when right after he performed tests that this happens. I am truly questioning going back.
Cate in Rochester on June 04, 2010:
My Dr. is sending me in a week for EMG/NCV because I have mild twitching in my arms, legs and abs. It has been going on for months now, and is not getting worse or better. I am grateful for all of the honest information on this site, even though it has scared me more than I already was, at least I can wrap my mind around it and make an INFORMED decision on whether or not to actually have these done. From what I am reading though on here, it seems like you al have had these tests done because of tingling and or numbness in areas... does this sound normal to have this done to test for twitching? I guess I am not even sure. I would of course prefer NOT to have these tests, and most certainly NOT the EMG. I still have nightmares over an IM injection I had years ago - I can't even imagine how much that would hurt having a needle inserted over and over and over. I am not afraid of needles at all, and have regular acupuncture done, but this doesn't sound like much fun at all...
Jim in Florida on June 03, 2010:
So my question is..... Do I go ahead and have the NCV/EMG to possibly identify and correct numbness and burning in my thumb....I'm beginning to think not.
GinBee on May 26, 2010:
I had my test a couple hours ago. Wow! Completely different from the 3 I had years ago. This was all digital. Needles were thin wire-like probs. Electrical current was much more precise and direct. Didn't shoot through like Frankenstein. I felt the jolts, but way way less than before. I was in and out in less than 10 minutes. each arm took a few minutes. I wouldn't hesitate to have this again (hope not) but I'd make sure it was administered with DIGITAL equipment - not the old stuff!
GinBee on May 25, 2010:
I have had 3 EMG/Nerve Conduction tests both arms and c-spine all in different years. All equally painful. I refused the last one that I am having tomorrow. I was told my ortho doc needs to know if I have radial nerve damage left arm. I had no evidence of nerve damage with the last three. I don't expect nerve damage this time either.
What they do with this info is move to surgery quickly if there is nerve damage so that it doesn't become permanent. If no nerve damage (like in both my carpal tunne surgeries years ago) then they can take their time with PT and other types of "treatment".
My Carpal Tunnel was treated with surgeries (als including the cubital tunnels (elbow). My c-spine was treated successfully with injections (under anesthesia).
I am hoping for no nerve damage to my left radial nerve, as I understand that surgery is difficult as is the recovery. My husband is encouraging and says go in, have it done and then it's over. Typically, tears sort of roll down my eyes during the test. I tend to cry harder afterwards (walking to the car). My arms were totally worthless appendages the rest of the day.
Everybody is different. I despise these tests and even popped 2 vicodin before the c-spine test. (didn't help). Tomorrow I am having bilateral EMG/NC tests. Waaaaaaa! I'll come back here and report. Waaaaaa!
Barbara on March 31, 2010:
I am thankful to find information. I too like to be informed, it reduces my anxiety. I do not think it outweighs, the pain I am experiencing for this test. My Mother and sister had this a few years ago. I was horrid pain, and zero end results to help or change their problems. I do not feel I am able to endure this, so I am cancelling. I have several auto-immune diseases, as my sistr does. If things get worse for me, maybe I will. My bottom ankle area are often broken out, Vasculitus, I think, and also lumps that appear swollen, then turnng to bruies. I am hospital bed bound each day, with legs raised to keep this to a minimum. I was unable to get information from the doctor's nurse about what this test was for, and what it involved, or if there would be a treatment.
I appreciate your well spoken artical with so much informatio and it was balanced for each to decide. I surely was not given this by my doctor or his office nurse when I returned the call for information. How kind of you to post this. Blessings.
Kaisermaster on March 01, 2010:
I would like add to the list of comments on this test. I am 40 years old and was injured in a work related accident last October. After 5 months of medical care (using that term loosly), physical therapy, yadda, yadda, I was scheduled for an EMG prior to having shoulder surgery for a labrum issue and torn biceps tendon. I would like to inform people of the level of discomfort that this test is capable of producing. Now to preface this, I am not a small or whimpy individual, I am a medium frame man with average build, in relatively good health,been in construction my entire life without incident, not over weight. I have never had any significant health issues in my past, but am no stranger to pain. I am heavily tattooed throughout my entire body including my neck. However, let me tell you my experience with this test is nothing short of having broken glass rammed through your arm with a hand full of razor blades thrown in for fun. My body involuntarily just about jumped off the table 3 times and I thought flames were going to come from my finger tips. At one point it took all of my being not to smack the living day lights out of the Dr. administering this inquisition level torture on my arm and body. Considering he was more than willing to tell me to "relax" and "its not that bad", , Really?? SInce your not on the recieving end of this, how about I jam one of those bad boys in your arm and lets make you ride the lightning buddy !! Now it is about 2 hours post this little science experiment on my body and my arm feels like a fire tube boiler on the inside complete with the afore mentioned glass shards in tow, with no end in sight to the pain.
The necesisty for this is beyond my comprehension and what it proves is so insignificant in comparison to what it causes in my opinion; that I would never ever allow any of my family members to endure this. Clearly this has to be some kind of institutional experiment that made it in to mainstream medicine. Please do all you can to avoid having this test done to you and never allow your children to go through it. I wouldn't do it again for any amount of money. Feel free to contact me or respond, I would be happy to give you any kind of info you need to help you understand the severity of this dark closet of the medical world.
rick on February 23, 2010:
I had the EMG and nerve conduction tests at a VA hospital yesterday. I have a problem with my left hand (numbness in little & ring finger, and hand weakness). I had not researched this until afterward. I spent 2 hours undergoing shocks & probing. Folks, it's not that bad. The doc. played some hokey music during the test and concluded that the problem is in a nerve coming from my neck and carpal tunnel problem in both hands too.
Dave on November 19, 2009:
Ardie, you're the man!!! I am scheduled for MRI and then both of the others,(NCS and EMG). I wish I had found this hub last year! You are very thoughtful to have taken the time to write all this down for others. Thank You!
Carol on November 16, 2009:
Thank goodness I ran across your honest report regarding the EMG! My doc ordered a Nerve Conduction Study and didn't bother to mention that an EMG with needles would be included. I am scared to death of needles, and after having muscle pain and inflammation from head to toe for over a year now, I certainly am not going to allow them to give me even more pain, not to mention that doesn't even make sense when doc thinks I have fibromyalgia. So after reading your story I called both doc and neurologists office and told them I refuse to allow the EMG. I told them I will agree to the electrode pads for the first part of the test, but no needles. So we compromised that we will start with a consult, and if I still don't want the EMG then they will do only the first part of the test. Something told me there was a reason they schedule the testing on 2 separate days for upper and lower, so I went searching on the internet for answers today. Thanks a million for your valuable info!
maria little on November 09, 2009:
Thank you all. My main question is what will the results of the tests produce in terms of treatments? Can bad nerves be operated on? or is it just to determine what medications one needs?
erin on November 01, 2009:
I recently went for a EMG for my upper cervical area and both arms they thought it was Carpel Tunnel well the original test done my arms was not bad but my neck was a totally different story he insert a needle in 2 diffenet spots on my neck he chenged needles and inserted that needle 4 to 6 times in my neck alone. He then continued down my back and shoulder blades which wasn't bad either all and all its worth it I have severe nerve damage stemming from neck next trip is MRI.. your info is very correct good job
Randy on September 24, 2009:
I'm going for and EMG next week to hopefully determine what's going on from L4-L5 down my right leg. For two years now my right shin, from knee to ankle and two inches on either side has been numb. I'm also experiencing weakness in the muscle groups around my outside thigh and buttocks. The numbness came the day after I'd had a chiropractic adjustment for the lumbar spinal area. Thanks to your posting I'll be ready for the pain. Sadly, I've experienced electrical shock pain down my right leg that lasted six days and prevented me from standing. The pain was an 11 on a scale of 1-10 and that was while I was on Vicodin! I'm prepared now thanks to your information.
Sondra (author) from Neverland on September 23, 2009:
Im glad you kept reading too. I dont mean to scare anyone...if the tests are necessary then they are necessary. I am wondering if I should pull this article so I dont scare anyone out of getting a test they absolutely need. Im glad your testing went as easily as possible for you.
WOW! 33,000 volts?! Now thats impressive and crazy. Im glad to know you lived through it. For the EMG, I've heard that the more you can relax your muscle - the less it hurts! So stay calm and collected :)
paul on September 19, 2009:
hi, thanks for information i've had similar tests done never liked the enclosed space whilst in machine, on the other hand it was totally painless. Had SEP test Somastosensory Evoked Potential test, this i never liked, as the electric current was at its max i felt it very uncomfortable on my wrists the doctor then stopped test for about 1min told me to relax then started back up again, on doing this he started with the same amount of current as when he had stopped the test (ouch) is all i can say, dont let me put anyone off everybody is different. I am waiting to go for EMG so sitting here with my fingers crossed lol. I was electrocuted with 33,000 volts in an accident at work so you would have thought the SEP should have been easy lol.
Michelle on September 15, 2009:
I'm really glad I kept reading your post about the EMG nerve test because you said the carpal tunnel test would probably not be as painful. I was totally freaking out because I am deathly afraid of needles. I went in for my EMG today to test the nerves in my arm to see how bad my carpal tunnel syndrome is. I just wanted to share my experience in case someone else is going in for this type of EMG test. I must tell you--it was not as bad as I thought it would be. The guy on the phone told me it would take 30 min-1 hour (which FREAKED me out!), but the test didn't last even 10 minutes. First, he connected electrodes to my hand and sent shocks through my arm--weird, but not extremely painful. Then, he took the needle (I didn't look at it) and inserted it into about 5 different spots on my arm and hand and then once in my neck. He didn't hold the needle in there or anything. It just felt like a really thin tiny needle poking me about 5 times (it's obvious it didn't hurt very much because I don't even know how many times he inserted the needle). He then had me lay with my head on the other side of the table and did the same thing to my other arm. And BAM! I was done. Less than 10 minutes total. So, don't worry about this test if you are getting a similar test for carpal tunnel. That small amount of discomfort is totally worth what the test results will tell my doctor.
Raju on August 05, 2009:
Its Very information. thanks for sharing your experiences.
Sondra (author) from Neverland on January 16, 2009:
Thank you, Lgali :)
Lgali on January 16, 2009:
Great information--Great hub!
Sondra (author) from Neverland on December 19, 2008:
Thank you Benson. Unfortunately I have first-hand knowledge of the tests. Being as you are a general surgeon, maybe you've heard of chiari, it is my curse. And also, since you are a doctor, have you ever almost been hit? I couldn't believe I did that :)
Benson Yeung from Hong Kong on December 19, 2008:
that's very interesting. I have to say you know much on these topics than I do (I'm a doctor). Good job.
Sondra (author) from Neverland on December 15, 2008:
Thank you for the comment. I have seen the open MRI's, but I've never had one. If I ever need another MRI thats the route Im going! But hopefully that wont be necessary since we never found a reason for the symptoms and they have gone away :)
newcapo on December 15, 2008:
Great information--Great hub! I have had several MRIs on my lumbar spine. For the last few years, they have all been open MRI, but I remember the closed tube, I'm glad I'm not claustrophobic . Thanks for the info
Sondra (author) from Neverland on December 15, 2008:
Hello Elizabeth, good to see you :) Im glad you mentioned the button you can push to talk to the technician. I forgot all about that. It was a nice comfort measure. I remember bsically holding on to mine for dear life my first MRI.
Elizabeth31 on December 14, 2008:
Sorry you had to have so many tests. I have had a MRI for the neck. My experience was similar, except that they put your head and a neck in a brack like thing for that and you don't have to wear a cap. They had a button you could push if you needed to talk to the technician for some reason.
Sondra (author) from Neverland on December 14, 2008:
Thank you for your nice comment, Bardie.
Bardie on December 14, 2008:
Thank you so much for the information. You are absolutely correct when you say there is no information on how tests or procedures feel. Your hubs are concise and informative. Thank you!
Sondra (author) from Neverland on December 14, 2008:
Thank you for the nice comment. The only way I knew to ask my doctor for something was because my Mom mentioned it to me. I hate small spaces and the meds helped tremendously. They're probably why I heard aliens arguing ;)
Triplet Mom from West Coast on December 14, 2008:
Ardie, this is great information. I wish I had this information before my husband had his MRI, he is one of those that does not like enclosed places. Thanks for sharing!