EMG and NCV tests

Hi All,
I am about to see a Neurological Surgeon and I am thinking that he may want to do EMG and/or NCV tests. I don’t know if these provide any valuable information re EM but I do understand that they can be very painful and I don’t know if the pain/benefit ratio will fall on the side of “benefit”. Has anyone had these tests? Were they helpful in figuring out a course of treatment? How painful were they? Would you do it again?

I got an EMG test where they stimulated the nerves in my legs, the test was controlled by a person right next to me and they were very considerate of if I needed to stop and stuff. The test was basically like getting a cramp with a bit of pain and they did a few stimulations per nerve and maybe 5 nerves total. It did not tell anything for EM and if you know you have EM not just nerve pain then I would say the test is not bad if your brave but not really worth getting done. If you get shocks of pain in your feet / hands ever that is most likely nerve, then I suppose the test could tell if the nerve needs to have something done.

Overall if you know you have EM symptoms exactly and not shocks of nerve pain then I see no point in getting the test done, but im no doctor.

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I had an EMG and it wasn’t too bad. I agree with Mark’s description, but I would argue it doesn’t hurt to get just in case to rule out other conditions.


EM can be caused by a wide variety of causes, neuropathy being very high on the list. An EMG may not be beneficial in the child population for EM due to the high rate of sodium channel genetic mutations but in the adult population the chance for EM secondary to neuropathy is high on the list. An EMG would be able to rule this out.

An EMG isn’t so bad. Something akin to some sharp zaps from a TENS unit.

The NCV was worse, with some thin electrode needles inserted to apply the zaps. Not comfortable, but I’ve had worse.

Neither can provide a test result that confirms EM. Results could point to a different cause of symptoms but EM is sort of a diagnosis of exclusion. Most EM patients have normal EMG and NCV results.

I am pretty sure I had an EMG and definitely have had several nerve conduction studies. One of the neurophysiologists who conducted them did prepare me for pain but I have never had anything really painful. I have a friend who had to stop mid-study because of pain but they stopped as soon as he said.
I had all of them done at the Royal National Hospital in Queens Square London which is a really good hospital. They were very helpful for me because they showed progression of nerve damage (yuk), and… wonders!..one which showed a stopping of progressive damage over a two year period. This was after a solid amount of treatment with Rituximab for vasculitis, My EM is secondary to vasculitis.
I’d go for it, tell them you are nervous and stop them if necessary - they must be used to this happening. Good luck