Patient Comments: Electromyogram - Experience

Question:

Please describe your experience receiving an electromyogram. Submit Your Comment

Comment from: Jax1978, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: August 16

I've come to realize everyone's experience is different because I asked others I know if an electromyogram is painful, and they said no (3 of them). I got it done yesterday, and the pain was horrible. I'd like to think I have a high tolerance for pain. The shocks weren't bad for me and the needle insertion was only mildly painful, but when they moved the needle around in my arm and told me to flex, it was horrible. And they had to keep searching a while in my arm to find a good spot. I'm still in pain today and nauseous.

Comment from: Jennieg, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: August 13

I found the electromyogram (EMG) pretty painful - not the worst pain ever but still enough to make me feel that I was in shock afterwards, and really wish I'd gone to the appointment with a friend. I had no real expectation of pain beforehand, and I'm very good at tolerating injections but I particularly found the needles in my calf during the EMG to be painful. I found that as the reading was abnormal the technician needed to maneuver the needle more there too. Fortunately it was of short duration.

Comment from: Verushka, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: July 23

My electromyogram (EMG) was extremely painful, 8/10, and I'll never do it again. I don't have needle phobia, I didn't know anything about EMG beforehand, not even about the needles. The electricity didn't hurt but the needle movements made me quit after a full-blown panic attack. It wasn't as horrible as getting a copper IUD (intrauterine device) which absolutely traumatized me so I'll never give birth naturally. That pain was demonic, full 10. I wish someone had warned me in both cases. And my tests came out normal, sigh.

Comment from: Angie, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: July 18

I tore the muscle in my ankle 9 months ago, and I have been in agony ever since. I had electromyogram and nerve conduction study done today and was petrified after listening to all the horror stories that people were telling me. But they was wrong, don't get me wrong, it was uncomfortable but bearable. It was funny watching my foot jumping around when it got a shock, I walked out of there limping the same way I walked in, no extra pain added. So just be brave and go through the motions.

Comment from: Rosa, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: July 18

I refused to continue and left. I couldn't bear the electromyogram. I don't believe I'm the only one. Wonder what you can do if you are unable to do this test, need to find out if it can be done under general anesthesia.

Comment from: Sarahkate, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: July 08

I will not return to my neurologist. My electromyogram was to find why I had all over lower body cramps, numbness, tingling and weakness but oddly no pain and no swelling, just spasticity and the rest. My neurologist did not disclose how painful the test is or I would have refused the test. The neurologist did not disclose the after effects or I would have refused the test. I did not have any pain or any swelling before the test. I am in my third day of post-test agony and it is worse by the hour. I fired the doctor, but now what!

Comment from: Muddled, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: July 08

I've had three nerve conduction tests in the past fifteen years. The first two electromyograms were uncomfortable, but quite bearable. The third one was excruciating and I was in tears from the pain. I go for my fourth next week and dreading it.

Comment from: Abigail, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: June 26

I had electromyogram in my calves, ankles and feet done today and it hurt like crazy. I prepared by taking Advil and Valium beforehand. I have to go back next week for upper body which I hear is worse so am dreading it. There was some blood on the table and scratches, pricks and bruises on my body where they made contact. A real mess. I am just going to have to suck it up for the next time. I didn't cry until I got to my car. For anyone who says it didn't hurt; you didn't get what I got!

Comment from: Scott1, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: June 21

I am a larger sized male about 380 lb. I ruptured my left quadriceps so the doctor ordered an electromyogram (EMG). I did not mind the second part where the needles were inserted, but it was the first part where he shocked me. I was trying to be masculine and joke around but it hurt badly. I can remember telling the doctor it hurt. He tried to make the situation less awkward through conversation. I can remember seeing and feeling the pain as my leg would jump away from the doctor at the point of contact.

Comment from: FOR THE CAUSE, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: June 20

I didn't expect the electromyogram to be so painful; if I had known, I would've taken my morning medicines, which may've taken the edge off of those pin-sticks in my legs! I had to go home and get in the bed because I was in pain; I'm still not quite my normal self! I realize that it had to be done to find out what is causing the numbness and pain in my thigh after my anterior total hip replacement. I have no quality of life; I just want to be able to get back to my normal peaceful life pre-surgery, cooking and things.

QUESTION

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury. See Answer
Comment from: Jeweliegwen, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: May 20

Reading through the comments here you will realize that some people say the electromyogram (EMG) test is a piece of cake and just felt a little funny, while others say it was the most horrible pain they ever felt. Going into this test you have to realize that if you do have nerve problems, then yes, it could hurt badly. If you went through the test and it didn't hurt, that is awesome for you, but don't dismiss all the people on this thread that did go through agony having this done. My test was pretty horrible.

Comment from: MaJen, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: May 03

I've had several nerve studies along with electromyograms. They are not bad at all. Considering the agonizing pain from the 3 herniated discs in the lumbar spine that's causing nerve compression and a hip labrum tear, I could do these tests all day every day. My only problem I had this time was that several of my muscles immediately cramped as soon as the needle was inserted and then others wouldn't relax after she was finished testing them. I'm almost positive I failed this one with flying colors.

Comment from: 22OK22, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: April 23

The electromyogram test is definitely not pleasant, however, it is tolerable. I have had the test done on two different occasions on both legs. I absolutely hate being shocked so even though the needles going into the muscle hurt a little more I think the shocks were worst (and I know it's all mental). It's similar to getting a tattoo in a sensitive spot, except a lot quicker.

Comment from: JJ , 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: April 22

I think everyone's experience is different depending on a variety of things from placement of needle to pre-existing conditions. I had the EMG (electromyogram) and NCV (nerve conduction study) procedures with the needle in my hand to test for multiple sclerosis. The procedure was the worst pain I've ever felt in my life and I've had two children, broken bones, and a blood clot in my leg! The worst part was the neurologist's dismissive attitude to my pain. Perhaps he was trying to save face since my husband who's a physician himself was in the room.

Comment from: Abby, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: April 17

I had an electromyogram (EMG) and it is the most painful experience of my life, I can honestly say it was worse than natural child birth. That was 2 months ago, and my biceps and triceps are still in pain from where he inserted the needle, or stuck it in my arm like a dart, and then he had me flex my muscle. I had excruciating pain, now I have an infection in my bicep and it has broken out with a rash. I am going back to the doctor soon, but I would advise anyone not to have any nerve conduction tests. Good luck all.

Comment from: Kerts71, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: April 09

I had Guillain-Barre syndrome as a child and had multiple electromyograms (EMG). They were so horrific that my mom couldn't bear to be in the room with me. My dad had to hold my arms down as I screamed and cried. In fact just hearing the story scared my sister enough that she's never been to a doctor. I'm 47 now but the trauma from that is still crystal clear. I have lupus with peripheral neuropathy. I am scheduled for another EMG. I know that it won't be as scary as it was for a child but I'm seriously dreading it. Wonder if I need Xanax.

Comment from: Bluj1279, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: March 14

The first part of electromyogram for me (where they shock you) was unbearable. I could not complete it. After only a few shocks I had to stop. To me it was like being tasered. I ended up having an anxiety attack afterwards. Everyone is going to handle this test differently. I have a horrible nerve disorder and don't know if I will be able to retry it, even with sedatives. I will attempt to reschedule and hope that I can do it. On a 1 to 10 pain scale, I told the nurse it was a 12! Most unbelievable pain ever for me.

Comment from: Jenjin, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: February 25

I had an electromyogram (EMG today and it was not that bad. I was even joking around with the doctor and kind of found it interesting. I read a bunch of these scary comments last night and barely slept from fear. I almost cancelled but I'm glad I didn't because it really didn't hurt. Doctor told me he's done over 3500 EMGs and has only had 4 people make him stop. They were all men.

Comment from: Lou, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: February 21

I had the nerve conduction study and electromyogram done yesterday. I didn't know what to expect. I asked him if it will hurt. He said no. I held back the tears. It hurt so bad, I couldn't wait till it was done. It is 24 hours later, and I think I'm am getting reminiscing pain. He did the testing on both arms and then neck and shoulders. I'm getting pain in all the areas tested.

SLIDESHOW

Muscle Cramps (Charley Horse) and Muscle Spasm Remedies See Slideshow
Comment from: Truth teller, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: February 11

I had the electromyogram test done to determine what was causing the numbness in my fingers, and clumsiness. I really did not want to have this test done but I needed answers. The test was a very difficult one to complete. It was painful. Afterwards I experienced itching from the needles and lumps from where they had placed the needles in my muscles. I was sore. I just returned home and now I'm lying down.

Comment from: Jan, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: February 01

I just left from attempting to be tested. The electromyogram technician, in my opinion, had that machine turned up too high. She should have started it low then increased. I told her I refused to do the test once she informed me she has to do it at an even higher dosage. The doctor that does the second part came in the room to speak with me and I told him no also. It does hurt, at least that is what I experienced.

Comment from: DD, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: January 31

I believe people experience pain differently. I could tolerate the needles up and down my arm but when the needle was stabbed into the palm of my hand I couldn't continue the electromyogram test. It might have helped if I had some warning. I like that these posts are real experiences.

Comment from: Joseph Garcia, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: January 07

I had an electromyogram done today and feel it's not as accurate as an MRI. My shoulder feels like it has something torn in it but after my EMG procedure the doctor said I was fine. Fine, really! He just said to take it up with my primary care doctor.

Comment from: Kk, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: January 02

The electromyogram was the worst pain of my life. I have had broken bones, blood clots in the leg and lungs, pancreatitis, gallstones, and a herniated disc in the past. I suffer from diabetes, fibromyalgia, and pre-cancer, but nothing could prepare me for this amount of pain. I almost blacked out during the test and the people who conducted it had zero compassion. To the people who think those with bad experiences are spreading fear and misinformation, I say shame on you. Everyone and every experience is different.

Comment from: Dswanson, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: December 26

After being misdiagnosed with trigger thumb 7 months ago I had an electromyogram. The doctor enjoys torture. He kept turning up the voltage until I was crying and kicking the wall. I told him to stop. I refused the last needle. He left me bleeding on the table from the needles. This is torture and you should get a sedative prior to it being performed. Should not be legal. This is the second time I've had it done and it was worse than I remembered. Or the doctor enjoys torture.

Comment from: kelli, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: December 21

My electromyogram was a nightmare, I was screaming and in tears. I had severe pain for 6 weeks after the test. I hate doctors.

Comment from: DrSuz18, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: December 12

I was terrified after reading some of the posts on this site about the electromyograms, so much that I almost cancelled my appointment. I have a low tolerance for pain, so thought it would be too much. But, I knew I needed to get it done, so I was brave and went. I am so glad that I did, because it was easier than some people made it seem. You will feel little shocks, but after the first few, you get used to them. And the needles are very thin. So, just breathe and it will be over before you know it!

Comment from: katie, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: November 27

I am dismayed that people are creating fear about electromyogram here. I had this test today in several places. It really was nothing, just a little weird, not even uncomfortable. If it was painful it would warrant a local anesthetic; it doesn't. Please don't worry if you are having this done.

Comment from: j, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: November 21

During the electromyogram test it was not too bad, I had it done in my left hand from elbow to my fingertips due to slipped disc in my neck. I am not joking, the pain afterwards! No one should get this test done, I'm not joking, and find out afterwards they were just looking for more information and didn't know either slipped disc before they did the test. My hand is throbbing as I'm typing this with my right hand and pain from the slipped disc is bad when your turn and twist, but after the test it's just constant.

Comment from: JoD, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: November 21

After reading most of the comments on electromyogram here I was very anxious about my nerve study today. I must say it was tolerable and I've had much more painful things, i.e. shingles, migraines, gall bladder attacks, nerve blocks, costochondritis, gastroparesis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and gout, just to name some and put in perspective. Do not worry about these 2 tests.

Comment from: Dah, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: November 20

I had the electromyogram several days ago in my lower leg/foot. I asked my doctor if it would be painful and he said no. It shouldn't be. Well, the doctor who performed my test put it to me. It was horrible and at some point I broke down in tears. I am not a crier and can endure a lot of pain. After bringing me to tears he said to get a better read, we need to do a muscle test where I put the electrodes in the muscles of your feet. I said absolutely not! I will never subject myself to that torture ever.

Comment from: Lora, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: November 13

I had an electromyogram last week and left shaking my head. The pain was either barely there or so bad it made my legs jump and kick. This was in no way controlled by me. My left leg jerked and kicked more than the right, significantly. The doctor said that the results were pretty good. How is that possible when both legs behaved differently!

Comment from: Cvava, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: November 13

I was very fearful of my first electromyogram in my legs after researching comments regarding the pain. I could not believe, as many of you have said how easy it was. So when I was scheduled to have my arms done due to pinched nerves in my neck, I was not fearful at all. Well, it was the most horrible thing I have ever been through. I was in tears and pain for hours afterwards. I read someone's comment that said, if you don't have damage, it doesnt hurt much, the worse damage the more pain, perhaps that's the reason.

Comment from: Muscle disease guy, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: October 31

I've had an electromyogram (EMG) with nerve conduction study done twice, testing the muscles in my legs and arms. The nerve conduction studies didn't bother me at all; just a slightly weird sensation, no pain. The first EMG caused no pain whatsoever; I could hardly feel the needles. The second EMG didn't hurt at first, but the last few needle sticks were painful; fairly bad, sudden, sharp pain, but only lasting a second or two. Even with those last few painful needles, for me the test wasn't a big deal.

Comment from: Torture is us, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: October 30

I had an electromyogram earlier this year prior to surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome. It was absolute torture; despite my obvious distress, the neurologist never expressed concern. Abu Ghraib prison comes to mind. I was so disoriented and terrorized afterward, I should not have attempted driving, as I could not focus and came close to causing an accident. Eventually I found myself near a shopping mall, pulled into a parking lot, and shuddered for some time. Never again.

Comment from: Lisa, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: October 22

I was terrified after reading some of these comments on here, so got the ok to take a Xanax prior to the electromyogram test and it wasn't that bad. I am terrified of needles but it really wasn't bad. The worst one was in my shoulder but it was very quick. I had it done at a clinic in Jacksonville and they were very good. If you are having anxiety about it, ask your doctor for a Xanax to take before you go and this was my saving grace!

Comment from: Jess, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: October 19

I had an electromyogram test in both my hands today and it was painful. The needle portion especially. The shocks were, for lack of a better word, shocking, but it made me laugh more than scream because I wasn't expecting it. However, the needles hurt so much. One in particular in my right thumb. It still hurts a few hours later.

Comment from: Heart, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: October 16

After undergoing both the nerve conduction and electromyogram tests I felt so much anxiety, I was nauseous and finally felt relief after vomiting. I was grateful that my husband drove me home because I was disoriented and in pain as the test caused a flare up of my spinal stenosis. All this to learn that I have carpal tunnel syndrome. I will never submit myself to this torturous test again, if I can help it.

Comment from: Dobiegirl, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: October 15

I had an electromyogram today on my lower leg and I have to say reading all these posts about it being so painful and even getting posttraumatic stress disorder shocks me. I even told the doctor, 'wow, that was not so bad at all.' Maybe whoever did your tests did not know what they were doing. For me it was no big deal and I deal with pain every day all day 24/7; don't fret it was not bad at all!

Comment from: nyjarc, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: October 03

I had an electromyogram test yesterday and after reading some of the comments I was terrified. For me there was no pain at all. It was a little uncomfortable but that's it. I had the testing for a pinched nerve in my neck. There might be other areas that are more sensitive and more painful depending where the problem is but for me there was no pain. My suggestion is, don't stress yourself out.

Comment from: Alison, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: September 13

I had an electromyogram a month ago in my temple and forehead and today in my legs and arms. I am so glad that I did not research first. I found the tests very easy to tolerate and would not hesitate to repeat if required.

Comment from: Shell, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: September 05

The electromyogram test wasn't painful for me. If I have to have it done again I would. My mother had it done a couple of months ago and she liked it. Me not so much. But it didn't hurt me.

Comment from: Princess, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: September 05

The electromyogram test was painful and the nerve conduction velocity test was extremely painful, like torture. I can't believe that doctors will allow this test. I now have PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) because of that test. I cry every time I think about what I was put through. On top of that the male doctor yelled at me to relax. I would like to give him the test and see if he can relax. Don't have the test, it is torture.

Comment from: PTL, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: August 30

I had an electromyogram (EMG) test done yesterday. I had developed a fear of the procedure after reading many testimonials on the internet about painful experiences many people have undergone. I must tell you that I have had significantly more pain with acupuncture treatments than with the EMG test. The procedure was uncomfortable, but not painful. I have had neuropathy in my right heel for over a year. So, the nerve conduction velocity study and EMG test results were helpful in ruling out some possible causes.

Comment from: Vali, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: August 30

I had my electromyogram test today. I had worked myself up reading testimonials online. It was very overrated. The shocks were small irritants. My brain barely had the chance to process pain because they were over in no time. The popping noises in between were more bothersome. The needle portion was last. There was slight burning upon insertion and a dull aching while flexing the muscles. I strongly encourage anyone facing this procedure to not read other persons' experiences. No fear that way.

Comment from: LPB, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: August 24

I had my electromyogram test yesterday. After having my left arm tortured with the needles, I asked if I could postpone the right. The doctor talked me into having the right done then, and it was much different from the left - much less painful. This morning my left arm feels like it's been through a wringer, as well as having the feeling of being cold. I sure hope this is temporary!

Comment from: Becca55, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: August 24

I had my electromyogram done almost 3 months ago now. It was the worst pain I have ever experienced. On a scale from 1 to 10 it was a 10 plus. Before the test I had a little pins and needles feeling in my toes and feet. Now I'm having pain all over my toes, feet, and legs. It now has also moved to my stomach, arms and hands. There are times I can't even put any pressure down on my feet. I also am experiencing a stabbing piercing sharp pain on top of my feet. I don't sleep from the pain. I have spinal stenosis and 2 bulging discs plus arthritis all in my back. I have bursitis in my hips and spinal stenosis in my neck.

Comment from: Tstano77, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: August 23

If someone says they would do an electromyogram again, I don't believe it. I've had 10 surgeries and this was worse. The most horrible part was I asked the doctor to stop and he ignored me. I asked a second time and told him I didn't want to continue the test and he ignored me. I then said it a 3rd time, to stop immediately, and he kept going. There was no nurse in the room to help me. I was never so terrified. I had 3 nightmares the day after test. I'm thinking about counseling.

Comment from: Rellik0078 , 19-24 Male (Patient) Published: August 16

I got an electromyogram 3 days ago and let's just be completely 100 percent honest. It hurt terribly; pure agony, pure torture and I just don't understand why doctors force you to do things like this when they know it is going to cause pain when they should have given you a shot of morphine or Dilaudid or even a muscle relaxant to calm your pain. I mean out of 10 I would probably give it an 8, that's how bad it was. I can't explain the pain. But By the end of the 20 minutes I was in tears crying.

Comment from: Kalynn0225, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: August 16

I had an electromyogram today with electrodes and then needles checking for carpal tunnel. The electrodes were not too bad. A few were more painful. I thought my hand reflexes might slap the doctor! The needles were the worst; inserted in the fleshy part of the palm below the thumb, then moved around. Horribly painful. Had to do the right hand twice, then the left. Honestly an 11 on the pain scale. Also did the muscles in my upper arm. Not too bad there. Afterwards I sat in my car and cried for 15 minutes.

Comment from: Bob V., 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: August 10

Just got back from an electromyogram (EMG) test for carpal tunnel syndrome. For those of you worried about the pain, don't be! The electric shocks are an irritant at worst and not painful at all. In fact, I imagine them to be akin to what you would receive if you had purchased one of those late night infomercial muscle relaxant machines. The needles don't even feel like a skin pinch. In closing, truly, getting a tooth frozen at the dentist is a whole lot worse than the EMG test. Don't lose any sleep over it.

Comment from: wcrtc, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: August 09

I had my first electromyogram and nerve conduction velocity test today. It was unpleasant. I would do it again if I had to, but hopefully never again. It wasn't that painful for me, but very unnerving. After the test I had burning sensations and a general tired feeling in my legs and feet. The bad part was the anxiety attack I had while sitting in my car in the parking lot of the facility where the test was done. You may want to get someone to drive you if anxiety is an issue. Have no idea why it freaked me out so bad, but it did.

Comment from: Hastyslow, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: August 02

I had an electromyogram yesterday and while the test was annoying it was never really painful. It did cause extreme tiredness on the day, I slept from 2:30 that afternoon until 6:30 the next morning! I was completely wiped out. I also woke up with a terrible headache and it aggravated an issue in my neck which is so painful it actually knocks me off my feet. Normally happens 1 or 2 times a month but happened 4 times yesterday! It did diagnose chronic C7 radiculopathy and chronic pain syndrome so was worth it. MRI to come.

Comment from: Vance, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: July 23

I have had excruciating pain ever since my doctor has given me the electromyogram test. I have been taking pain medicine for the last three years, and my pain had subsided or had been camouflaged by the medicines. All of a sudden I had an accident with a car and my pain increased. Now my doctor gives me this test electromyogram where he sticks his pins of some sort in my L5 and S1, and now my pain is excruciating and running down my leg way worse than ever in my life. I don't know what to do next!

Comment from: Annee, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: July 23

After reading these dire reports, I was very concerned about the pain of an electromyogram (EMG) procedure. I didn't find it at all painful - the shots were like acupuncture shots and the electric impulse was no more than that. I assume that not all procedures or pain levels are alike but from my experience, it was not a big deal at all.

Comment from: marydee, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: July 17

I have had numerous electromyograms (EMGs) over the past 20 years and have a high tolerance for pain. No pain medicines when I gave birth to my 3rd child, so I know pain well! EMGs are very tolerable except for the back of the knee. Weird, I had one today and they held the shock in place for several minutes! Each knee. Pain scale 10 in the left knee and 8 in the right. I will never do another EMG. I can't sleep because it still hurts like crazy! I think it depends on the technician, same reason why getting blood work is a hit or miss with pain.

Comment from: Sara, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: July 06

My electromyogram (EMG) was more painful than birth contractions or even burning your hand! I could not walk properly for the first few hours and I had very sore muscles and pain in my legs for 4 days later! And the surprise was that the result was normal! Although before the EMG I had pain in one leg, I mean night leg cramps, now I have pain in two!

Comment from: mlp, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: July 03

My herniated disc, migraines and back pain are way more pain than the electromyogram. Basically I thought it was a piece of cake!

Comment from: Sherilyn, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: June 20

Most of the electromyogram pain was pretty easy, not uncomfortable. Then he got to my shoulder. I cried. I have a high pain tolerance. My breaks don't show up, therefore no casts and no pain medicines. They show up 2 weeks later. Anyway, I also have arthritis and scoliosis and a bulging disc. I drive a truck. I also had my kids with no pain medicines. I suffered from pain for 6 months after this test. I had to test my wrists and arms. This test for some will be painful. Relaxing is the best information I can give you. Push the pain out into a spot in the wall and breathe, this will help.

Comment from: NMBear, 25-34 Male (Patient) Published: June 04

I had an electromyogram when I was 25 years old. To put it simply, I think there would have been less pain in having my arm removed. Discovering a 24 percent nerve loss was not worth the pain I felt during the test. I could not even drive for 2 days afterward. Both arms took turns being numb or on fire.

Comment from: painrelief, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: May 31

I am a 43 year old male, many times half marathon runner, active and mostly healthy. I see my family doctor once or a few times each year for annual check, blood work and some minor issues. Beginning from a few weeks ago, I had paresthesia felt in the hands, arms, legs and feet. My family doctor referred me for a nerve conduction and electromyogram test. First the nerve conduction, most were okay, several were mildly painful and caused a big jump. But overall I can take it (pain level: 1 to 5 mild to moderate pain). Then, electromyogram test was the worst experience ever for me in a doctor's office. Needles were inserted to each arm (5 needles for each arm). I screamed probably twice. I told the doctor I didn't expect this. It's my first time to take a neurology test and I didn't do enough research. I had no idea the pain could be so intense (pain level: 5 to 7 moderate to severe pain, the intensity could be also from my anxiety). The doctor asked if I wanted to continue. I just wanted to get it done (because I knew I will probably not come back) and told him to proceed. Finally 4 stickers were supposed to be inserted into my back neck. When the second sticker was put on my skin, I broke down. I screamed and began to cry. It was the worst pain I have ever experienced in the recent years, pain level 8 to 9! The doctor stopped immediately, apologized that it's so uncomfortable and the test was over. He also told me the result is normal so far. I still don't understand why some people are ok with these tests but some others like me had so much pain.

Comment from: HisWife, 55-64 Male (Caregiver) Published: May 22

My husband has a very high pain tolerance but this electromyogram test made him scream three times. He's been thrown from motorcycles and cut off a couple of fingers with a snow blower as a kid. And still this ranks up there as a horribly painful experience. Maybe it depends what the test is for. They diagnosed degenerative disc disease, and we wouldn't have known that without this test. He also has diabetic neuropathy.

Comment from: Crystalcall , 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: May 15

I had an electromyogram and nerve test done today. At first I was checked in different areas of both legs with safety pins to see if I felt it. After that, the nerve test. Most of this test was ok but when the doctor got to my pelvis area it hurt terribly. One part in my leg hurt as well because it was like 8 shocks on the same nerve in the same place. The needles (about 9) that were inserted in my leg were not too bad. Overall though, I will never have this test done again.

Comment from: emerald77, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: May 10

I really don't know why anyone would read these! One person says it's horrifying while the next says that it was a piece of cake. I had electromyogram done 20 years ago and it was virtually painless. I had it done yesterday and thought they were shoving electrically charged ice picks into my hands. My advice; hope for the best, prepare for the worst. Most likely you're going to have the test no matter how horrible you think it may be.

Comment from: Flrman101, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: April 27

I had an electromyogram in my legs and back. Most pain is when they want you to push your muscle or bend your leg. I would say some parts are very painful but not prolonged pain.

Comment from: chapstick81, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: April 23

Reading up on this electromyogram test was the worst thing I could have done. The test was not that bad. First they do tiny shocks externally and make measurements. The second part was small needles inserted and you flex your muscles and they get some kind of reading from it. I have basically no pain tolerance and this test hardly felt like anything. Don't read all this comments and make yourself terrified.

Comment from: Avril, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: April 10

I had a nerve conduction and electromyogram test. It was the worst pain I have ever experienced! I sobbed because it was so traumatic. They never offered sedation. I gave birth to two children naturally with no epidural.

Comment from: Hansola, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: April 03

I had an electromyogram done because I was having an issue with neck pain and numbness to my extremities. I was a very fit 58 year old male at the time who thought that he had a fairly high tolerance to pain. The procedure was done at a local hospital. It was 30 minutes of brutal and painful experience. I would never put myself through anything like that again; ever.

Comment from: Cookitheef, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: March 27

I had nerve conduction/electromyogram (EMG) yesterday and I was nervous because I had read the reviews on this site first. I had it done on my legs and there was absolutely no pain at all. Nerve conduction was done first and only took about 1/2 hour. The doctor then came in and did EMG. She stuck me with a few needles like acupuncture needles. The entire process was painless!

Comment from: patmar213, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: March 22

I just finished a nerve conduction/ electromyogram. For reference, I had it done in-office by neurologist to check for neuropathy. Overall, it really wasn't bad. I think much depends on the care and skill of the provider. She felt that only legs were necessary as normally legs show signs earlier than arms. The first part (shocks) was okay, several were mildly painful (and caused a big jump), but honestly they were over in a second. For the second part, needles were fine, probably 8. Only two hurt (several I barely felt at all), but she immediately took the needle out, rubbed my leg, gave me time/permission to move around, etc., and then re-inserted it at another location. I'm not sure it's location that matters; one was calf, other was opposite leg thigh. It's been 30 minutes and I feel mild soreness/pain in the two locations, but nothing major, maybe like a bee sting. It wasn't the most fun I've had this week, but can't complain too much.

Comment from: Jane, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: March 14

Electromyogram was the worst pain ever, never again will I go through this. I began to think of prisoners being tortured with electricity. I have a very high pain threshold but this was something else, would rather have a wisdom tooth out than this.

Comment from: StiffandSore, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: March 09

I had electromyogram done yesterday on one leg. It was extremely painful. It may have been because I am overweight and the doctor said my leg was a bit swollen and she had to keep increasing the voltage. My skin went red in a reaction to whatever was used; I couldn't see much as I was lying down. My partner was there holding my hand and if he hadn't been there I wouldn't have been able to tolerate what I did. I don't know what was the worst part, the electric shocks to find the nerves then the 10 strong electric shocks one after the other when the nerve was found or the subsequent muscle needles and having to move. I wouldn't ever have it done again, I will live with not being able to bend my toes and the weakness on one side I have; don't care, I am not having it again. The worst was the needles into the soft underpart of my foot. The skin is usually soft there for everyone because you don't walk on the arch but today my arch is covered in bruises from the needles and I feel like a human pincushion. I had needles in my foot, up my leg and into my hip and buttocks. Feel like I have to warn everyone and should have picked up when the doctor said to my partner, 'are you going to hold her when she starts screaming'. Don't care how useful it is as a diagnostic tool, I am not having it again.

Comment from: Lena M., 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: February 07

I had an electromyogram done 3 times and none of them fazed me at all. Like everyone I talk to says they hurt. I am not sure if it is a good thing or a bad thing that I was not fazed by any of it. I have diabetic neuropathy in my legs and feet, and today it was done on arms and hand. I don't know if that means my nerves are good or bad.

Comment from: dreymsv, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: December 29

I had an electromyogram test done yesterday. Saying it was uncomfortable is really underestimating it but it depends on the gravity of your situation. I had a herniated disk removed, L5-S1 with severe sciatica pain for one year, and the hernia reappeared, further compressing the sciatic nerve. This test only hurts a lot if your nerve is compressed (which is the case for me), I had extreme pain only in one of the three needle insertions (the rest of the exam wasn't a big deal). I have a really high tolerance for pain considering that I've had 3 cortisone infiltrations plus epidurals in my spine and 4 surgeries. The electrical shocks and the needle going in were unpleasant but overall it was tolerable, nothing to really worry about. You may be in pain for a few days and feel odd electrical like sensations in your legs. Take a Xanax before and you'll be fine.

Comment from: Italian candi, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: December 14

Don't be afraid! I had an electromyogram test done today and it was not bad at all. I was so anxious reading all these comments. The test was done on my leg, it was a little uncomfortable but definitely tolerable. My leg is sore but I was able to take my dog for a walk a few hours later. You will be fine, don't let all these negative comments scare you.

Comment from: LiftThis, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: November 15

I've read so many gruesome accounts of the electromyogram (EMG) test that I put it off for months. Well, I finally had the test today and it is not horrible at all. I realize that everyone has different pain thresholds, but the test is a piece of cake. Teeth cleanings hurt more than the EMG! If you're scheduled to have one, you have nothing, I repeat, nothing to worry about.

Comment from: Sweet Pea, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: October 23

Electromyogram was the most painful test I have ever had. The insertion of the needle was easy. However, once the electric current was turned on, the pain was awful especially when I was told to move my leg or foot. I was so happy when it was over. Unfortunately, the pain continued. It felt like my leg was heavy and I had a very deep ache. The pain finally lessened after 2 days. Never again.

Comment from: Thomas, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: October 16

I had an electromyogram today and found it a very unpleasant experience. The electrical jolts were unpleasant but not painful. The needles they stuck into the sides of my hand, however, were terrible. They were fine going in, but when they started moving them around it got very painful.

Comment from: KateyB, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: September 27

I couldn't believe all these comments I read, they really scared me! I went and had a nerve test and electromyogram done today on both arms. Nothing to be scared about! The needle they use is so tiny, and the nerve test isn't bad at all. It is no worse than hitting your funny bone lightly. No pain after, no bruising, no swelling. And I am a wuss! So please don't be scared. As long as you go to someone good, you'll be fine! There are way worse tests out there. This is the least to be worried about!

Comment from: PPSpatient, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: September 27

I had the nerve conduction velocity (NCV) which I believe is the painful test everyone is commenting about since they are using electrical current to measure the response of your nerves. It was a test my doctor warned me would hurt but was needed to confirm post-polio syndrome especially affecting my legs. Significant nerve damage was found and the test, which at times made me want to cry, was the most uncomfortable test I have ever had. At one time, I told the technician who was consistently increasing the voltage to try and get a response in one place, to stop or I was going to get up and leave. She moved on to the next place. But it wasn't just the electromyogram, it was the NCV.

Comment from: Jim D, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: September 26

I had an electromyogram yesterday, the needle pain was minimal, and the electrical impulse pain was only moderate. I would rate the discomfort total to about 3 on 10. Anxiety before test was high. I recommend not worrying prior to test, it's not very painful.

Comment from: Zokyah, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: September 19

I had an electromyogram the day after I had a lumbar puncture (LP), and the first thing I thought afterwards was that I'd rather go through another LP than having to suffer another hour of being shocked again and again. They didn't use a needle, but it still hurt awfully, and the most difficult thing is the length of the experience. They kept increasing the voltage because they couldn't quite read the results. The doctors were rather nice, but they couldn't help hurting me, all that to confirm a diagnosis that was kind of already certain. I really hope I never have to do that again.

Comment from: Hurting, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: August 08

My electromyogram was a horrible experience. Placing the needles was no problem but some of the test was like connecting me to an electric fence and then turning on the power. I hope to never go through it again. At one point the shock made my reflexes in my body jump all over. The person doing the test said, 'Look, he looks like a chicken flapping his wings,' and then he did that test 3 more times. I cannot tell you how bad that hurt. I have tendinitis in my right shoulder that has not bothered me for a long time now. After taking this test it has been hurting now for over a week. I am also noticing a large floater in my eye that I did not notice before. I will not take this test again. I am questioning the doctor's office that gave me the test and wondering if it was really necessary.

Comment from: taurusmgt, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: July 18

I had 30 needles in my legs during my electromyogram and only felt the 1 behind my right knee. The rest I didn't feel at all.

Comment from: fibrogirl1, 45-54 (Patient) Published: July 10

I just got my electromyogram today. That hurts! I am not a foul word speaker, but it hurts. It was not 'uncomfortable', it hurt. I have a high tolerance for pain and I cried the entire second half and uncontrollably for 2 hours after I left. My doctor was rude, insulting and outright demeaning. And I do fill out the surveys. And I will fill out the survey for this visit.

Comment from: lucy, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: June 06

I had an electromyogram done a week ago. It is uncomfortable but not painful. By cooperating the test will be much shorter. Mine took less than 1 hour. Hope this is helpful to anyone who is about to have one.

Comment from: Ottawon, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: May 05

I have neuropathic pain syndrome due to a car accident, with burning and stinging in both hands and feet. I am not diabetic. I had 2 electromyogram studies performed by different doctors. Luckily, there was only pin prick sensations or sometimes like getting a vaccination with a needle. It hurt a lot less than getting a shot in the mouth by a dentist. I know everyone has different problems and their bodies react differently. Best of luck to whoever needs to have this done.

Comment from: Barb, 75 or over Female (Patient) Published: February 28

I had an electromyogram test 11 days ago. The test was not bad but I have more pain today than I have ever had in my life. I can't rest at night, can barely walk and am in constant pain somewhere in my body 24/7. The test was done in my legs and back. The neurologist said I have pinched nerves in both areas. I was fine when I left the office after the test. The pain gets progressively worse.

Comment from: Sue, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: January 13

I had an electromyogram (EMG) today. I hope to goodness I never have to do another one. It wasn't so much the poking of the needle but the moving it around and having to flex the muscle while the needle was in there that was excruciating. I think the jaw and tongue were the worst. I am just hoping I get some kind of answers after that horrific ordeal.

Comment from: grouch, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: January 06

I have had electromyogram (EMG) twice and will never do it again. An EMG is one of the most sadistic medical tests I have yet experienced. It was like being stabbed with an electric cattle prod.

Comment from: Honest, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: December 12

Please read this before you go for your electromyogram visit. I read all the posts here and went in almost shaking, anticipating a lot of pain because my tolerance is low. I did the nerve test and it was no different than the TENS machine when you do physiotherapy, a mild electric current. I also did the EMG and it was the same or less than the pinch from an acupuncture treatment. There was no pain! My doctor was very good and talked with me throughout the test and explained all. I know we are all different and some might have existing conditions that renders this test somewhat painful but I have arthritis and am very sensitive and it went well for me. I truly hope this helps you.

Comment from: Traci3_1, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: July 11

I had an electromyogram and nerve conduction study done today. The needles going in was no problem, I didn't feel it. The small shocks in my arms and legs were reasonable, a little bit like being tasered. But it was the one he did on the side of my neck; it was like torture, like pulling finger nails out. He did one lot of 10 pulses where my body was practically jumping to the roof, followed by a 30 second break then another ten pulses which was like a jack hammer going off in my head, then we waited 1 minute and he said one final lot of ten, we got to three and I was screaming, tears running down my face and he stopped it saying if I wasn't going to cooperate we wouldn't get the right result. Oh my goodness, I cooperated as best I could. It is 11 hours post the test now and I still have a thumping headache, every tooth in my mouth is aching and I have tingling in the right hand and foot. That cannot be right!

Comment from: Donna, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: June 22

I had an electromyogram on my legs yesterday. The neurologist prescribed one 0.5 Xanax for anxiety. I did not take it. Shocks were quick, once in a while a foot jerked but not painful. It feels like a TENS machine. Regarding the needles, I did not feel at all, except when targeting those painful muscle areas. My neurologist kept me preoccupied with conversation about our love of cooking. Overall, a painful experience was highly overrated. No bruising, no swelling, no bleeding. And may I add I take Plavix and had no reaction whatsoever!

Comment from: mrchester, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: April 20

I had an electromyogram and needle test done yesterday and after reading other patients' experiences I was dreading it. Mine were carried out on my legs and arms and I can honestly say apart from a few strong twinges, it was painless. I did not even feel the needle going in. I feel a bit sore today and have slight bruising. I would not be worried if I had to have another one done. Everyone is different, I know, but it definitely was not painful

Comment from: Big Cap, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: March 18

I just had an electromyogram. My wife read up on it and did not tell me (she had fun with that). It was awful for me. I couldn't wait until it was over. I have a high tolerance for pain. The doctor said some people don't have any problems at all. My test was 45 minutes. Mine was for spinal stenosis L4 and L5. The most pain was at my ankles. They did the test several times in the same place (which hurt the most) in sets of three. I do have drop foot and maybe my test was more intense. Not to scare anyone, but at the end of the day I could not get surgery without it.

Comment from: MN MN, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: January 27

I had the electromyogram test last week and for me it was a piece of cake. The electrical currents were nothing more than a hard reflex test. I jumped, but nothing painful. The needles felt like a bad mosquito bite. It was done quickly and I was on my way home. Not a bad experience for me and hope it shows why I have such bad muscle weakness in my legs.

Comment from: fairwinds, (Patient) Published: January 22

My experience with electromyogram is very similar. The shocks administered were very strong and became unbearable, when I stopped the procedure. The operator actually tried to follow my leg around as it flew off of the table, and I was reminded of the reaction to a Taser gun (admittedly as seen in the movies). I puzzled over the experience, thinking that the operator had the setting too high, but these forum entries here show that the shocks although brief can be very severe. Finally, the leaflet given at the booking stage mentions a slight tingling, clearly a big understatement. My doctor when discussing the experience, was of the opinion that the leaflet has to understate the shocks in order to reassure the patients, many of whom would not turn up if they knew the true situation.

Comment from: Verklempft, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: November 02

On 10/21/2015 I had just put toddlers down for naps and lay down to nap also while singing. I looked over at the 17 month old which was down/left from my supine position and had severe spinning, nausea, and what I now know was eye twitching. I learned that day from a friend about benign positional vertigo which was resolved with exercises. I called his doctor and was facing a USD 1000 visit, so googled the subject and found several videos with various maneuvers. I was able to trigger the vertigo by lying on back with head hanging and turning to left. Turning to right I have no vertigo or eye twitch. I went ahead and did self Epley on left but failed to stay upright for the day. Today (day after self-treatment) I had a bout of vertigo while feeding kids lunch but cannot cause any spinning with positioning my head as before. I feel much better but kind of hungover, like tired and fuzzy. If symptoms last will absolutely see the dizziness doctor to rule out serious illness.

Comment from: Lil MIke, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: October 27

I have had two electromyograms (EMGs) after an accident that ruptured 2 discs. I am so glad for the few that did not have much pain. It was the worst pain I have ever felt. Sticking needle in was bad, moving it around was worse, and add electrical shock, I puked. The VA (Veteran's Affairs) wanted to do one on both legs and both arms, I said no, thank you. My neurologist told me that worse the nerve damage worse the pain! Like now if anything touches my thumb, pointer, and middle finger on left hand, it feels like a needle; just a mild touch like a piece of paper. I have been having this for 6 months now. After cervical fusion of C5/C6/C7 in 1996 the surgeon said that the ones above and below will go next because they are taking the extra stress. I am sure that is what has happened. But anyone that knows the VA can attest to the bureaucratic red tape. I finally had MRI 3 days ago, still no results. Good luck with you all.

Comment from: no human, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: September 21

I am allergic to all antibiotics. My mouth swells, I can't breathe, and I get hives and rash. I hope I am the only one out there with this trouble. I am allergic to everything outside. Most food, pets, soap, dust, and over the counter medicines.

Subscribe to MedicineNet's General Health Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

CONTINUE SCROLLING FOR RELATED SLIDESHOW