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EMG for neck and shoulder pain
I recently had an EMG done because I have severe pain in my neck, mostly near the base, due to an injury.  I had an MRI in October that showed a bulged disc and the pain has increased dramatically since then.  I have had shoulder pain as well since I've had this injury.  I recently had an EMG done which came back normal.  My question is about the EMG.  The doctor who performed the test did not do anything at all above the midpoint of my bicep.  Since my core problem is at the base of my neck, should the test have involved placing nodes or the needles higher up along my shoulder and closer to my neck, or is it normal to only do the arm and hand?  I don't fully understand the test, but I would think testing from one point on the arm and down to my hand would only test the nerve(s) between those 2 points and not closer to my neck where there is more likely to be damage.
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The EMG is used to determine the level of muscle involvement and how well the muscle is working. The muscles distal to the involved body part are the essential ones to test, as this involves the movement and strength of your arm/hand.  The neck muscles are affected to a lesser degree as the pain in that area (and shoulder) is more a factor of nerve involvement.  Since you know that you have a bulged (herniated) disc, the extent of the herniation and level of pain you are experiencing will help determine the course of treatment.  Some would advise only conservative treatment as long as the muscle is working properly.  Others would advise more aggressive treatment if the nerve is being compressed by the herniated disc.  Physical therapy can alleviate much discomfort from a herniation. Depending on the size of the herniation and the status of the disc (dessication (drying) or degeneration) will help to determine whether surgery is needed to obtain resolution of the problem.  If you are still in pain, I would recommend a consult with an orthopedic or neurosurgeon skilled in the treatment of this type of disease process of the spine.  Their interpretation of the MRI findings may help you with any decisions regarding further medical care.
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Ok, thank you.  The impression I had gotten from my doctor was that the test was to determine if there was any nerve damage, and if there was damage, where it was, and if my disc was in fact what was causing it.
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EMG stands for electromyogram with "myo" being muscle.  It is true that he is testing the nerve involvement to the muscle, but it does not determine where the nerve might be compressed, etc.  Again, I recommend that you see a skilled orthopedic or neurosurgeon who can evaluate whether an MRI is indicated at this time.
Good luck ----
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