Nerve tissue conducts information about pain and sensation. It also transports signals for motor movements to the muscles. When pain or dysfunction sets in, it is often difficult to know the source of pain and malfunction. An EMG is an electrical study the measure the response of muscle to the stimulation of a nerve. A variation of this test is Nerve Conduction Velocity (NCV) which measures the speed of signal transport within the nerve.
By placing very small probes in the muscle tissue it is possible to make measurements and diagnose specific dysfunctions of nerves. It is also possible to pin point the area of problem. As nerves pass through the extremity, there are several areas that the nerve could have impingements. These tests can help delineate the exact area and provide tactical information regarding treatment. This test can also differentiate between radiculopathy (nerve root compression) and neuropathy (nerve degeneration).
The test is mildly uncomfortable as the small needles are placed into the muscle tissue and last approximately one hour. No major risks exist, however the results are operator dependent and not highly reliable.