Herniated Disc? What To Expect During Your EMG

Posted on: 31 July 2023

If you've been experiencing tingling in the extremities, intense tightness in your back, and other serious symptoms due to a herniated disc, then your doctor is likely to send you for an EMG. Short for electromyogram, this is a test that determines whether the herniated disc is impinging on your nerves. It also reveals which nerves the disc is impinging on. So, what should you expect during such a test? Take a look.

Preparing for Your EMG

An EMG may be conducted by a neurological specialist. Some orthopedic physicians also do this sort of testing. There is no need to prep for an EMG. Just show up at your doctor's office a few minutes before your scheduled appointment time. Make sure you wear something loose and comfortable so that your doctor can access your back easily. Some doctors will have you change into a gown for the test, while others might just have you lift up your shirt if it is loose.

Conducting the Test

To begin the EMG, your doctor will insert several tiny needles into the muscles on either side of your spine. This may sound scary, but most patients barely feel the needles going in. You may notice a pinching or poking sensation but no overt pain. These needles are really tiny electrodes. They measure when your muscle contracts and how much.

With the electrodes in place, your doctor will ask you to contract certain muscles and move in certain ways. They'll likely have you pause after each movement so they can record the data from the electrodes.

Getting Results

The feedback from the electrodes will tell your doctor how much your muscles contracted, which muscles contracted, and how strongly they contracted. This information will tell your doctor which nerves are firing and which are being impinged. If a muscle that should fire when you move a certain way does not fire, that generally means the nerve associated with that muscle is compromised.

Based on the results of your EMG, your doctor will determine how to best treat your herniated disc. If it is impinging a lot of nerves, surgery may be recommended. For less severe cases, they may recommend physical therapy and a chiropractic adjustment.

If you have a herniated disc, don't be surprised if your doctor sends you for an EMG. This simple test can give your doctor lots of insight into the severity and location of your muscle and nerve impingement.

Contact your doctor for more information about getting an EMG