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EMG/Nerve Conduction Study

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#1 sarasmile


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Posted 23 April 2010 - 03:45 AM

Due to some awful muscle weakness/pain, I recently attempted to have an EMG and Nerve Conduction Study. I got through the Nerve Conduction Study fine, the shocks ranged from annoying to painful, but nothing too horrible. (Everything was completely normal with this study by the way.)

However, I then tried to undergo the EMG. Now, prior to the visit, I had done a little reading, and knew that I would be stuck with several needles for this test (which I am definitely not fond of, but who really is?). I think I was expecting a lot of short, small pains or something. The doctor stuck the first needle into my shin area, and it was excruciating. He then wanted me to flex my foot, which I was only partially able to comply with due to the pain. After a couple minutes of trying to get a good result, he removed the needle. We were not able to continue from there because it hurt so much. I was a complete wreck, and I literally did not stop crying for 45 minutes. My poor husband kept asking me if I was still in pain, and I kept replying that I think I was just really in shock from the previous amount of pain. I'm really not much of a crier, and I've just never experienced an amount of pain that I felt I could not handle. It's important to note that for the past several months, basically anything hurts much more than it should - my whole body feels like one big bruise. That day in particular was one of my worst days. Hence one of the reasons why I was going through this awful test in the first place.

Anyways, all that to ask how much should it hurt? Was this an abnormal experience? Are there alternatives to finding the cause of muscle pain/weakness that do not include an EMG?

Any help would be appreciated.

Thank you,


#2 Shelley Ensz

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Posted 23 April 2010 - 07:05 AM

Hi Sara,

I'm sorry you had such a rough experience with your EMG.

As it happens, yes, EMG's do hurt, and sometimes, they hurt a lot. Here is info on our main sclero.org site:

Medical Tests: General

Does an EMG Hurt? Yes. The problem is, the reactions that one person has versus another are quite unpredictable and I have to say hard to make sense out of. Some tears are common; occasionally, not often, someone will bail out in the middle, saying, "That's enough, I'm done." But you can have a grown man crying, saying how awful the test is, and next do a child who hardly complains at all – what does that mean? Gregory Pittman, Information is Free. (Read more...)
Warm Hugs,

Shelley Ensz
Founder and President
International Scleroderma Network (ISN)
Hotline and Donations: 1-800-564-7099

The most important thing in the world to know about scleroderma is sclero.org.

#3 warmheart


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Posted 23 April 2010 - 03:56 PM

Hi Sara,

I'm so sorry you had so much pain with your EMG. I had one years ago when I was first being diagnosed. As I recall (and mine ended up lasting a couple of hours, so I recall pretty well), the one I had was very unpleasant but not all that painful per se. The first thing they had to do was warm me up for about half an hour so they could do the test (good old Raynaud's). Then they inserted a bunch of needles in my arms, legs, and also eventually on my chest (they were trying to find a neurological cause for my esophageal paralysis). It wasn't much more painful than the neurologist's pinpricks when he checked to see where I did and didn't have sensation.

Then the electric shocks began; I had pretty severe shoulder weakness that I'd never told anyone about but it showed up clearly on the EMG, so it ended up with two neurologists shocking me over and over, looking at the printout and arguing, and then doing it all over again. This went on and on--I don't think it was the typical experience! At one point one of them asked me, "You don't have any shoulder weakness, do you?" "Oh, no," I said. I would have said anything to get away from them! As I said, it was unpleasant but more in the way of when you accidentally bite down with a filling onto a bit of tinfoil--not so much painful as just a really nasty deep sensation.

Once again, so sorry your experience was so much worse!


warmheart :bye:

#4 Lucy H

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Posted 29 April 2010 - 10:16 AM

Hi Sarasmile,
I have been advised to go for the same test because of pain (kind of like muscle burn) in my thighs. I have been diagnosed with CREST & myositis test came out neg. so they want to know why I am having such pain & trouble climbing stairs (I'm 49). I heard that the test was painful so I started to inquire about benefits of knowledge aquired vs.pain of having it. I was told it would just give them a good idea of where I was. I can tell where I am based upon how I feel. Did having it help them chart a course of treatment for you that they wouldn't have? Did they put you on meds? I am so reluctant to go on any meds other than the nifedipine for raynauds & vit D. Prednisone panics me. I am so sorry that you had to go through that test. I am really not enthralled with the prospect of having it myself. I do wonder if it is completely necessary. Now that you have done it what do you think?
Thinking of you & hoping you feel better,

#5 sarasmile


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Posted 04 May 2010 - 08:05 AM


Well, unfortunately I was not able to actually complete the test due to the pain, so they do not have any results to go off of. It seems like the ranges of pain with the test vary greatly, and some people only find it annoying. That was not the case for me.

My doctors are still in the process of diagnosing my autoimmune disease, so I am not on any treatments. Like you seem to be, I am very leery about going on any major medications. The doctor administering the test also seemed unsure of what information it may or may not end up providing. I have attempted to call my rhuematologist to ask her if the test is absolutely necessary, but I have had some trouble getting anyone to answer a phone (I will be switching doctors due to this). I would recommend talking with your doctor about the benefits of the test if you want further reasoning. Hopefully if you do undergo the test, you fall into the majority of people who merely find it unpleasant.

I hope they figure out your leg pain soon!