How Does Electromyography (EMG Test) Diagnose Muscle and Nerve Damage in Patients?

As a Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (PM&R) physician at Dickson-Diveley Orthopaedics, I work with orthopedic surgeons and other specialists to diagnose and treat a variety of orthopedic conditions. In particular, upper and lower extremity specialists and spine surgeons often refer patients to me for electromyography (EMG) testing. An EMG test helps me diagnose muscle and nerve damage in patients, which in turn helps hand specialists identify the appropriate treatment for hand and wrist injuries and allows spine surgeons to determine if surgery is appropriate for a patient’s neck or back pain. An EMG also allows me to identify many neurologic conditions, such as ALS, as well as muscle loss or atrophy in the hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders, knees, feet and ankles.

In the following video, I explain EMG testing and the potential reasons for ordering an EMG test:

Patients with upper extremity or spinal injuries may also find the following information useful

Fermin J. Santos, M.D.About the Author: Fermin J. Santos, M.D. is a fellowship-trained orthopedic physician specializing in the diagnosis, rehabilitation and use of interventional spine procedures for the treatment of painful spinal disorders.


The medical information contained in the Dickson-Diveley Orthopaedics website is provided to increase your knowledge and understanding of orthopedic conditions. This information should not be interpreted as a recommendation for a specific medical or surgical treatment plan. As each patient may have specific symptoms or associated problems, the treatment regimen for a specific patient may not be the proper treatment for another.

Gaining knowledge and understanding of a particular problem or condition is the first step in any medical treatment plan. I believe the information presented on our website will be helpful for those individuals experiencing neck or back pain, a spinal disorder, or other related problems. However, this information is not intended to replace the advice of your family physician. You are encouraged to consult with your physician to discuss any course of treatment presented or suggested.