What is an EMG machine?
An EMG machine is a device used to conduct an EMG. EMG is an abbreviation of the term electromyography or electromyogram, a test which uses electrical signals to test the health of one’s muscles and the nerves controlling them. Electrical signals are either sent through surface electrodes affixed to the skin’s surface, or through needle electrodes placed in muscle tissue. The results are recorded for the doctor to examine.
Electromyography machines come in different shapes and sizes. Many are about the size and shape of a pizza box, but newer models of these Machines are more compact. Some are about the size and weight of a paperback book.
Electrodes and needles?
This sounds scarier than it actually is. Needle electrodes are the ones that go directly into the muscle, but it’s really not very different from getting a shot in that the discomfort is present while the needle is inserted, but the discomfort doesn’t last, and the needle comes out in rather short order. The surface electrodes go on top of the skin; really, it’s best to think of these like stickers, and they are simultaneously more comfortable and less invasive than the needle electrodes. Typically, both forms of electrodes will be used to measure different values at the same time.
Why should someone get an EMG?
An EMG is a good idea for a patient if they have any symptoms which might indicate nerve or muscle problems. Symptoms could include tingling sensations, muscle cramps, numbness, weakness in the muscles, or pain. Using an EMG, a doctor could determine if the underlying problem is the muscle, the nerves controlling the muscle, or if there is something inhibiting the signals between the nerve and muscle tissue.
So how are these machines helpful?
These machines are helpful specifically in determining if a person who has symptoms associated with serious muscle or nerve disorders actually has one of those disorders. This is particularly helpful in the case of nerve damage or nerve disorders because, while nerve damage can be treated, nerve damage cannot typically be 100% cured.
Thus, the sooner a person with nerve damage discovers that they have nerve damage, the sooner they can begin treatment, which will result in significantly less irreversible damage. Early detection and treatment of nerve damage would also mean lower chances of having to rely on medication to cope with symptoms of nerve damage, or at least it could result in less reliance on medication in the long run, provided the proper treatment plans are put in place.
EMGs are helpful in detecting damage, creating plans to reduce long term damage, and possibly reversing damage which has already occurred.