How To Prepare For An EMG


  • Plan to arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment for the check-in process.
  • Your appointment with the physician, including the test, will take approximately 45 to 60 minutes. The length of a study varies depending on the condition. Most studies require 30 minutes or less. More involved studies, such as conditions affecting more than one extremity, may take more than an hour.
  • Take all of your medications as you normally would.
  • Bring or wear loose fitting clothing. For neck and arm studies, it is helpful to wear a sleeveless shirt. For back or leg problems, bring shorts.
  • Inform your physician if you take anti-coagulants such as Plavix or Coumadin. You do not need to stop them, but it is important for them to know you are taking them.
  • Inform your physician if you have a tendency to pass out with needling so they can alleviate your nervousness.
  • Inform your primary care physician in advance if you have a condition for which you would normally take antibiotics such as dental work, a heart murmur, an artificial heart valve, an artificial joint, etc. In general, for EMG/NCS, prophylactic antibiotics are not required, but that decision should be made by your regular doctor.
  • Inform your physician if you have a pacemaker or other electrical device (spinal cord stimulator, etc.), although these devices are not a contraindication to the test.
  • If you feel you may need pain medication after the procedure, please contact your primary care physician.
  • If you feel you need sedation, please contact your regular or referring doctor for a prescription. It is rare that patients need sedation. If you feel you need something, Valium or one of its relatives, (Xanax, Ativan), is usually prescribed. You need to be awake for the procedure, so whatever you take should allow you to be relaxed and not asleep.
  • Plan on resuming normal activities after the procedure. It is rare that post-procedural pain is sufficient to warrant time off from work.
  • Let your physician know who your primary care doctor is so they can forward a copy of the results to this physician or any other physicians who should receive copies of the results.
  • Call your primary care physician if post-procedural discomfort lasts more than 24 hours.


  • Prepare for a ride home afterwards. It is rare for a patient be unable to drive after the test.
  • Bring insurance forms to be completed. All insurance forms must be completed by your referring or primary care physician prior to your appointment.
  • Wear lotion on the extremity to be tested.

We cannot make any recommendations regarding your ability to return to or stay out of work. Please consult with your primary care physician for these types of requests


  • Exacerbation of underlying pain problem. This usually lasts less than 24 hours, but may last for several days. Call your primary care physician if post-procedural discomfort lasts more than 24 hours.
  • Soreness at stimulation or needling sites. This usually only lasts a few hours. If this lasts more than 24 hours, please contact the physician who performed the procedure.
  • Bleeding/bruising. This is normal, and can be minimized by icing. Severe bleeding is not known to happen, even in patients taking anti-coagulants.
  • Infection. This is rare. If you do acquire a fever lasting for more than 24 hours after the procedure, please call the provider who performed the procedure or your primary care physician.
  • Pneumothorax. This is collapse of lung which can only happen when muscles of the chest region are tested, and is easily avoided by proper technique