How is electromyography used to diagnose spinal pain?

If your doctor thinks your spinal or back pain might be due to a compressed nerve in your spine, you might need to undergo a test of your nerve and muscle functions called electromyography (EMG). During an EMG test, your doctor will insert a very thin needle into a muscle in your back. An electrode on the needle detects electrical activity in the muscle, and this information is relayed through the needle to a machine called an oscilloscope. This machine can measure how the muscle responds when nerves are stimulated, such as when the muscle moves. Your doctor's interpretation of the results of the EMG test will help in the diagnosis of conditions that can compress a spinal nerve, such as a malformed spinal disk or spinal stenosis, which is a painful narrowing of the area around the spinal cord.

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