Electrodiagnostic Testing & Nerve Conduction Studies

For diagnosing nerve and muscle problems

What is electrodiagnostic testing?

Electrodiagnostic testing measures the electrical activity of nerves and muscles to help diagnose the cause of a patient’s symptoms, such as numbness, tingling, weakness, pain and loss of function in a particular area of the body. 

These tests enable physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) specialists to diagnose a patient’s ailment by identifying the damaged nerves. Injuries or diseases that affect nerves and muscles can alter these electrical signals. The two most commonly used electrodiagnostic tests are electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction studies. 

Common conditions evaluated

An EMG records and analyzes the electrical activity in muscles, which can help detect diseases that damage muscle tissue or nerves. Nerve conduction studies are usually performed with an EMG to evaluate nerve function. Both are used to determine the cause of numbness, tingling, weakness, pain and any other loss of function in a particular area of the body.

The most common problems evaluated by EMGs and nerve conduction studies include but are not limited to:

  • Pinched nerves in the neck or lower back
  • ​Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Nerve or muscle injuries in the upper or lower extremities, or limbs of the body

What you need to know about electrodiagnostic testing and nerve conduction studies

Electrodiagnostic medicine specialists administer the test and report the results to the physician who ordered the testing. Physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) specialists have expertise in evaluating the patient, performing and interpreting the appropriate studies and recommending the proper follow-up tests and treatment.

Drs. Cosgrove, Gaines, Reidy and Woo offer electrodiagnostic testing at each of Tri Rivers offices. To schedule an appointment for electrodiagnostic testing, call 1-866-874-7483 or click here

James L. Cosgrove, MD
Anna K. Gaines, MD
Edward D. Reidy, MD
Benedict C. Woo, MD 

EMGs and nerve conduction studies usually take between 20 and 30 minutes and can be performed in a physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) specialist’s office. Nerve conduction studies involve administering electrical stimulation to nerves and measuring the response.

An EMG involves observing the electrical activity of the patient’s muscles as they rest and contract. While the patient flexes and moves certain muscles, the physician listens to and watches the electrical signals as they are broadcast on a monitor. An EMG can help detect injuries and diseases that damage muscle tissue or nerves by recording and analyzing electrical activity in the muscles. Nerve conduction studies are usually done with an EMG to evaluate nerve function. 

Prior to ordering electrodiagnostic testing, the physician will suggest conservative treatments for the patient’s symptoms like anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy and the use of a brace or splint.