Learn more about electrodiagnostic medicine.

Facts About Electrodiagnostic Medicine

Electrodiagnostic medicine uses neurophysiologic techniques to diagnose, evaluate, and treat patients with impairments of the neurologic, neuromuscular, and muscular systems.

If your nerves and muscles aren’t working properly, it may be due to electrical signals that aren’t being sent or received properly. This can cause pain, twitching, and involuntary movements in various muscles of the body.

The doctors at the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation​ offer a variety of treatment options for neurological disorders, pain issues, and other conditions. Learn more.

The following nerve and muscle diseases can be diagnosed using electrodiagnostic medicine:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Focal nerve injuries
  • Muscle disorders such as multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Nerve injuries in the neck and back
  • Neuromuscular diseases
  • Peripheral neuropathies, such as muscular dystrophy

Diagnostic Procedures: How Electrodiagnostic Medicine Works

To determine whether you have a nerve or muscle condition, you may be advised to undergo an electromyography (EMG) test or a nerve conduction study (NCS).

Both are electrodiagnostic tests to enable your doctor to find the underlying cause of your nerve or muscle condition and prescribe appropriate treatment.

An electromyogram enables your doctor to study electrical activity in your muscles. To administer this test, a specialist will place small electrode needles into the muscle tissue to record and study muscle activity.

A nerve conduction study measures the speed of electrical activity through your nerves. Your doctor can stimulate and measure the electrical impulses of your nerves by attaching electrode patches to the skin on various areas of your body.

What to Expect During Diagnostic Testing

Because small electrode needles or electrode patches are placed into or onto your skin during electrodiagnostic testing, do not apply lotion or body cream before your appointment.

When you arrive to your appointment, you’ll change into a gown. A technician will place the electrodes into your muscle or onto your skin, depending on which type of test you are receiving.

To obtain an accurate result, your doctor will have you contract or relax the muscles where you’re having difficulties. You may have to change positions during the test.

These tests can take from 20 minutes to an hour. You’ll be able to participate in your typical daily activities following your appointment.

Call 1-800-533-UPMC (8762) to make an appointment with a doctor from the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at UPMC.