An electromyogram (EMG) measures the electrical activity of muscles at rest and during contraction. A nerve conduction velocity (NCV) study is a test to see how fast electrical signals move through a nerve. These specialized electrical nerve tests are the only studies that directly assess the proper functioning of the body's nervous system.

An EMG is done to:

Find diseases that damage muscle tissue, nerves, or the junctions between nerve and muscle. These problems may include a herniated disc, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or myasthenia gravis (MG). Find the cause of weakness, paralysis, or muscle twitching. Problems in a muscle, the nerves supplying a muscle, the spinal cord, or the area of the brain that controls a muscle can cause these symptoms. The EMG does not show brain or spinal cord diseases.


A NCV study is done to:

Find damage to the peripheral nervous system, which includes all the nerves that lead away from the brain and spinal cord and the smaller nerves that branch out from those nerves. This test is often used to help find nerve problems such as carpal tunnel syndrome or Guillain-Barré syndrome.


EMG/NCV tests can be used to diagnose many conditions including:

  • Weakness or pain in the extremities

  • Reflex abnormalities

  • Muscle spasms

  • Hand or foot sensory changes

  • Diabetes Type 1 or 2

  • Entrapment syndromes

  • Thyroid disorders

  • Paresthesia

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