Frequently Asked Questions

What is a physiatrist?
What is an EMG/ NCS?
Why do I need an EMG/NCS?
Does an EMG/NCS hurt?
Why is my physician referring me to your office?

What is a physiatrist?

Physiatrists are doctors in physical medicine and rehabilitation who specialize in helping people function despite an underlying medical problem. Our physiatrists are trained in the rehabilitation of neurological disorders, the diagnosis and management of musculoskeletal and organ impairments, and the long-term management of patients with disabling conditions. If you suffer from diseases, trauma, congenital disorders, or pain that has limited your capability to function, our physiatrists can help you to maximize your physical and psychosocial abilities.

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What is an EMG/ NCS?

“EMG” stands for “electromyogram,” and is used to measure the electrical activity of your muscles both at rest and during contraction. An “NCS,” or “nerve conduction study,” measures how well and how fast nerves can send electrical signals or impulses.

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Why do I need an EMG/NCS?

By measuring the electrical activity in your muscles and nerves, our physiatrists can more easily identify diseases that damage your muscle tissues or nerves, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, radiculopathy, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Electromyograms and nerve conduction studies are usually performed to gather more information about the problem that is being investigated.

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Does an EMG/NCS hurt?

These tests can affect people in different ways. The NCS portion of the test involves the placement of electrodes on the surface of your skin and stimulating the nerves. This stimulation feels like small electric impulses, similar to little static electricity shocks. While this should not be painful, patients have described the sensation as awkward or uncomfortable. Rest assured, the strength of this electrical stimulation is not enough to cause any harm to the nerve or soft tissues.

For an EMG, we use an acupuncture-type needle that contains a recorder which measures the electrical activity in your muscles. Unlike with the NCS, the EMG does not use electrical shocks. During this study, you may feel anything from discomfort to pain, although we find most patients tolerate this portion of the study well.

Please note: If, at any time, you find the EMG or the NCS intolerable, you are allowed to stop the procedure. You have complete control over the study.

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Why is my physician referring me to your office?

You have been referred to Salem Rehabilitation Associates because your physician feels you might be able to benefit from our services, especially if you have a medical problem that needs rehabilitation. Of course, everything will depend on your individual situation, and it is always best to ask your referring physician why he or she referred you to our clinic.

Typically, patients are referred to us for some of the following reasons:

  1. To manage back pain or a back injury

  2. To develop a physical therapy program to treat pain or weakness

  3. To provide an EMG/NCS to evaluate for carpal tunnel syndrome

  4. To provide recommendations for treatment after a recent limb amputation

  5. To establish care for treatment of a head or spinal-cord injury

To learn more about what a physiatrist does, please refer to the appropriate question above.

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