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New Jersey Spine & Sports Medicine

EMG/NCS Testing

EMG/NCS Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


What is the Nerve Conduction Study or NCS?

The NCS involves examining the nerves in your arms or legs. This consists of attaching wires to the surface of your
skin, and administering a small “shock” to see how well the nerves react and function. These results are monitored
on a computer.

What is the Electromyography Study or NCS?
The EMG examines the muscle activity in your body. This study consists of inserting a sterile, individually wrapped,
needle into your various muscles and monitoring their activity. These results are monitored on a computer. You
will probably be stuck 5-7 times per arm or leg. There is NO shocking during the EMG.

What does the EMG/NCS test?
The EMG/NCS study examines the integrity of the peripheral nerves and muscles of the body. The study does NOT
examine the brain or spinal cord. It is important to realize that you can have a nerve or muscle problem, even
though you may not “think” you have any nerve or muscle problems. This test does NOT measure pain. You may
have a normal EMG/NCS study, even though you have severe pain.

What are the different parts of the study?
The study is usually done in two parts: (1) NCS, and (2) EMG (i.e. “needle” exam).

How long is the study?
Each EMG/NCS study varies from patient to patient, depending on what results are obtained. As such, the study
may take as little as 20 minutes, or as much as two hours.

Is the EMG of NCS painful?
The “shocks” during the NCS are not painful, although they may feel slightly uncomfortable. The needle “sticks”
during the EMG feel like small ant bites, and can sometimes be uncomfortable but, not painful.

Do I have to tell the doctor about my specific medical conditions?
Yes, please notify the physician prior to the study if:
  1. You think you may have AIDS or hepatitis, or
  2. You are taking any blood thinners such as, Coumadin or Aspirin

What type of clothing should I wear?
  • Men:  If possible, wear shorts and a t-shirt.
  • Women:  If possible, wear a loose dress and t-shirt
**Please remove any watches or rings you might be wearing on BOTH of your hands/fingers.**

Can I wear lotion on my arms or legs on the day of the study?
Please DO NOT use any lotion or cream on the day of the test. Such lotions or creams will make it difficult to
perform the study.