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Electro diagnosis: nerve conduction studies (NCS) and electromyography (EMG)

Advanced Tests for Nerve & Muscle Pain

Nerve Conduction Studies and Electromyography are diagnostic procedures used by Columbia Pain & Spine Institute staff to evaluate the severity of symptoms and recommend treatment options. In overview, NCS and EMG tests evaluate the electrical conduction of motor and sensory nerves and the electrical activity of skeletal muscles. Results can aid in the accurate diagnosis of such disorders as:

Nerve Conduction Studies

Motor and Sensory NCS tests measure the time it takes for an electrical impulse to travel from the generator to the recorder. In general, a slower than expected measurement can help indicate the specific cause of a nerve disorder.


EMG studies are used to identify neuromuscular diseases and to determine the severity of lower-back pain. There are two types of EMG: Surface and Intramuscular. In an intramuscular EMG test, an electrode needle is inserted into the muscle and electrical signals are monitored as the body part is coached through states of rest and contraction.

Intramuscular EMG is not always necessary. In such cases, a surface electrode can achieve acceptable results.

NCS and EMG tests generate complex data and require specialized knowledge to read and interpret the findings. Staff members at Columbia Pain & Spine Institute are trained to use such tests and can help you understand the scientific information.