EMG vs Nerve Conduction Studies: Difference and Comparison

Many nerve problems are arising in human beings due to the unhealthy lifestyle that we follow without any exercise in our bodies.

The nerve disorders can be detected using two tests as EMG and the other is nerve conduction studies. These two studies will help find any nerve and muscle damage.

So, that doctors can treat the patient better with the help of diagnosis. 

Key Takeaways

  1. EMG (Electromyography) measures muscle response to nerve stimulation, while nerve conduction studies evaluate the speed of nerve impulse transmission.
  2. EMG involves inserting a needle electrode into a muscle, whereas nerve conduction studies use surface electrodes.
  3. Physicians use EMG to diagnose muscle disorders and nerve conduction studies to identify nerve dysfunction.

EMG vs Nerve Conduction Studies

EMG (electromyography) involves placing a small electrode into a muscle to record the electrical activity generated by the muscle fibers. Nerve conduction studies measure the speed and strength of the electrical impulse and then record it to determine if the nerve is functioning properly.

Get vs EMG vs Nerve Conduction Studies

Emg is a nerve test that is performed by a neurologist. A technologist will also do some portions of the test. You should be relaxed and should not sleep while taking an EMG test.

There won’t be any discomfort after taking the test; you can do all the normal activities. Taking an EMG test will not affect your heart rate or blood pressure.

Patients with epilepsy have a small risk of getting seizures after taking the EMG test. 

A nerve conduction study is conducted to find the damage in the nerve and muscle.

A person can drive after a nerve conduction test, but if they had sedation, then they cannot drive for up to 24 hours because they will still feel drowsy.

Some of the common side effects of nerve conduction tests are the person may have bleeding at the place where the needle was inserted, and they might get an infection because of the needle. 

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonEMGNerve Conduction Studies
DefinitionThis test looks at the electric signals your muscles make in your body when they are at restThis test is for finding how fast the electric signals travel down the nerves
Duration30 to 60 minutes20 to 30 minutes
AdvantagesUsed for identifying muscles related disordersIt will give a better understanding of your nerve health
DisadvantagesIt has no standard electrode placementSometimes the patient can get an infection
Evolution1942A small development in 1745 led to this study

What is EMG?

Emg is called Electromyography. It is a procedure used for assessing the muscle and nerve cells. It helps in identifying nerve and muscle dysfunction and problems related to nerve-to-muscle signal transmission.

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n EMG test can be done within 30 to 60 minutes. The duration will depend on the number of nerves and muscles your doctor has advised you to take.

A doctor will ask you to take EMG if you have symptoms related to a muscular or neurological condition. 

The symptoms include numbness or unexplained weakness in the limbs. If you feel a buzzing sensation like an electrical shock, you should check with the doctor.

Before you take an EMG test, you should bathe well and remove oil or creams from your body. You should avoid smoking for at least 3 hours before the test.

Wear comfortable and loose cloth. Wear shorts or sleeveless clothing so they can take the test easily. 

If the EMG result is abnormal, then you might have nerve dysfunction, muscle disorders, and muscle injury. While taking the EMG test, you might feel slight discomfort.

But it will not cause any pain. It can be easily tolerated without any need for painkillers or medicine. You might get some infection after taking the EMG test if you are not comfortable with needles.

So, you should speak with the doctor before taking the test and clarify all your doubts. 

What is Nerve Conduction Studies?

It is used to diagnose muscle and nerve disorders. This test can be conducted within 20 to 30 minutes.

In some cases, the doctor may ask to test the nerve at multiple locations, for that, it may take some extra minutes.

The patient might feel slightly uncomfortable during the test, but it will not be painful. It will measure the strength and speed of nerve signals.

If the nerve is damaged, it will send a slow and weaker signal. Sometimes, the result will be positive even if the person has some nerve issues.

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In that case, the doctor might ask the patient to cross-check it again and make him a test at multiple locations. When a person gets nerve damage, it will be harder for him to control the muscles.

It will also cause weakness in your body. You will be tired even to make a small move, and your legs will get buckled.

The reasons why a doctor suggests a patient conduct a nerve conduction study are stiffness, spasticity, tingling, weakness, numbness, and pain around the body.

The test can detect conditions including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and myasthenia gravis.

If you have any feeling of wearing a tight glove or find numbness in the skin, then it’s time to visit a doctor to check whether you have any symptoms related to nerve disorders or not. 

nerve conduction studies

Main Differences Between EMG and Nerve Conduction Studies

  1. An EMG is a procedure used for assessing the muscle and nerve cells. On the other hand, nerve conduction studies are used to find nerve and muscle disorders.
  2. The duration of an EMG will range from 30 to 60 minutes. On the other hand, the duration of nerve conduction studies will range from 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. An EMG is useful for identifying muscle-related disorders. On the other hand, nerve conduction studies will better understand your nerve health.
  4. The downside of EMG is it has no standard electrode placement. On the other hand, in never conduction studies, the patient might develop an infection in the test conducted areas.
  5. EMG test was first developed in 1942. On the other hand, a small development in 1745 led to nerve conduction studies. 
Difference Between EMG and Nerve Conduction Studies
  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/mus.10544
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/mus.880161220

Last Updated : 26 June, 2023

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10 thoughts on “EMG vs Nerve Conduction Studies: Difference and Comparison”

  1. It is amazing how science keeps advancing to created easier and less painful tests, this knowledge will allow early treatments.

  2. It is very interesting how this study was started but, it is sad to see how these tests were created. We must keep developing to find less invasive methods.

  3. It is good to be aware of these tests. We should take care of our health and prevent these conditions. These tests seem easy to take, which makes it easier to monitor your health.

    • If you are at high risk of developing one of those conditions, it is a good idea to inform yourself about these conditions and the tests to keep an eye on your health

  4. This is a good article, it is always necessary to keep informed about our health and the tests that we must take, I think we should take these subjects in school.


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