Electromyography (EMG) is the newest groundbreaking technology to hit the fitness industry. EMG is used not only in the fitness industry, but also in the medical profession. EMG relates to the testing of muscles with tiny electrodes that are inserted into the belly of a muscle.
Throughout this report EMG will be broken down into easy to understand basics so that the general public will have a fair idea of Electromyographical Research and its benefits for general fitness and wellbeing.
What are EMG tests used for?
Doctors use EMG to diagnose medical conditions that are directly associated with muscles, such as muscular dystrophy and Myasthenia Gravis. EMG is also used, in the clinic, for the identification of nerve disorders such as paralysis, involuntary twitching or weakness within a muscle. While doctors use EMG research to differentiate between a neurological disorder or a muscle disease physiologists used it for an entirely different reason.
Physiologists use EMG research and the results to find out which exercises cause the most amount of electrical stimulation within a certain muscle. The higher the stimulation, the more muscle fibers are recruited therefore resulting in a gain in muscle size and strength.
Why have an EMG test?
Sometimes people who have a hip replacement or knee surgery and after being on crutches or a cast for so long their leg gets smaller due to reversibility. The patient then starts to train again and although the leg has regained its size it still looks really small and feels relatively weak. Doctors will do an EMG tests and see how much electrical activity is going on, if there is not much activity then the client may need to be referred to a specialist. If the test comes back as fine then the client just needs to be doing more exercise to strengthen it back up by doing additional exercises on the affected muscles.
What does the test involve?
Before having an EMG test conducted on you the doctor requests that twenty four hours prior the patient doesn’t consume alcohol, smoke and caffeine because all of these substances affect the amount of electrical activity taking place within the muscles. For instance, Caffeine and smoke speed up signals while Alcohol has the opposite effect.
The EMG test involves the patient coming into surgery and lying down on a bed a relaxing. The doctor will then place a small flat disc (approx 4cm wide) is placed close to the muscle being tested. Then a small needle (with an electrode on the tip) is inserted through the skin and into the muscle being tested. The needles used a smaller than a normal syringe but the patient will experience some discomfort on insertion. On the top of the needle is a small wire that carries the signal from the needle into the monitor (Oscilloscope) and then the monitor displays how much electrical activity is going on by a line graph that looks similar to a life support but more sporadic. The doctor may ask for the patient to contract and relax the muscle in order to get a really good electrical stimulation.
What do the results mean?
If, while looking at the monitor, there is a lot of movement and the line graph is going up and down like a mad thing, this means that there is a lot of stimulation happening inside that muscle. On the other hand if there is not to much activity while contracting and relaxing the muscle then this means you have a negative result.
If found negative the doctor will have to refer the patient to a specialist who could correctly identify exactly what is the problem.
What are the Risks?
The only risk associated with EMG testing is an infection at the needle insertion points or a sore muscle for the next couple of days. Even so, these risks are so unlikely to happen because the test is conducted in a hospital environment where everything is sterile and cleaned afterwards.
If patients are nervous about the muscle soreness the day afterwards, doctors advise to ice the muscle when getting home to reduce any swelling that may have occurred from the needle insertion.