Good morning! Well fudge nuts and applesauce! I was hoping to wait to write this one until I had more info, but it’s not exactly looking like that scenario is gonna be happening anytime soon, so I’ll just write it anyway! (Hold onto your knickers, cause it’s gonna be an interesting ride folks!) Welcome to the World of the EMG, Medical Idiot Style…
“Are you now or have you ever experienced muscle weakness, pain, or general lack of cooperation? Then you too may have had or soon will be be scheduled for the wonder and merriment of an EMG!”
Monday I had my second EMG (Electromyography). It’s a wonderful little procedure where they insert a needle that looks roughly like a small meat thermometer into a muscle. (Oh stop cringing! It’s not THAT bad!) The purpose of this procedure is to cause a little machine connected to the meat thermometer by a wire to make all kinds of annoying static sounds and throw up all these squiggles on the monitor. Now you know about as much as I do.
Just kiddin’! The EMG measures the electrical output of the muscle twice. Once as the electrode is inserted into the muscle then a second time as the muscle is contracted. This awesome little slice-O-fun is usually done in conjunction with a Nerve Conduction Velocity test. (They stick little electrodes on your body part then use a mini-Taser looking thingy to “zap” your nerves and measure how long it takes the signal to travel, thus determining if there is potential nerve damage, spinal cord damage, or if your brain is simply too bored to bother interpreting the signal.)
(Getting back to the EMG.) The electrical output is measured in two separate ways…(This test is big on “twos” I guess.) The annoying static noises are actually one of the ways they measure the output. The second is the squiggly lines on the monitor. Both measurements are simply different ways of reading the electrical output of your skeletal muscles, helping the Doc determine if there is muscle damage or weakness present. (Because, ya know...you saying, "Hey Doc, my muscles aren't working right." REALLY isn't verifiable medical evidence...but I digress.)
If you have issues with needles, try to relax. It really isn’t THAT bad. (Although I wouldn’t say it was actually fun by any stretch of the imagination.) Just know that because muscle fibers are made up of a million little fiber things, this nifty test only measures the output where it’s stuck, so there will be multiple “readings” in multiple “areas” taken to make sure they get an accurate picture of whatever’s happening in the world of your movement. (Or funky lack-there-of.)
The Nerve Velocity test is usually done with it since, ya know, nerves carry the, “Move dummy!” signals to the actual muscles. This way they can figure out if you’re nerves are sleeping on the job or if it’s the muscles that have taken an unscheduled vacation.
If you get lucky, the Doc (or whoever’s administering the test) may tell you if everything looks fairly normal or if something’s off, but don’t bank on it. Like every other test known to man, you’re probably gonna have to wait for someone else to interpret the data and get back to you. (And wait…and wait…and wait…)
At least the prep was easy for this one…I shaved my legs. That’s it. (AND I could have all the caffeine I wanted before it, securing this one’s place on the list of “Not So Bad.”)
I was a tiny bit sore the next day, but what do you expect…they stuck a tiny, wired meat thermometer in my muscle! The only other possible side effect would be a little bruising. (All in all, not too shaby in the world of medical procedures. *grin*)
May your day be filled with no need for this “fun” experience, but if it is…here’s hoping this work of confusion removed a little of the nerves from it for you! (Nerves...get it... the bad pun thing I did right there...Oh, forget it!)
PS In case you couldn't tell, this is one of the few tests that just does NOT compute with my brain. What I actually UNDERSTAND is this; remove shoes, meat thermometer stick, noise, move needle, more noise, contract muscle, MORE noise, remove needle, Doc looks confused and pushes buttons. Put shoes on, go home. AWESOME!