nerve conduction test/electromyogram/muscle biopsies - help! I'm scared to death!

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New Member

Date Joined May 2009
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 5/28/2009 7:01 PM (GMT -6)   
I have an upcoming appt w/ rheumatologist, and I am SCARED to death because I have been told I will probably need a nerve conduction test, muscle biopsies and electromyogram.  I informed my husband that I will probably decline all of these types of tests as I am very scared of needles, any type of electric shocks, etc.  PLEASE HELP!   Has anyone had any of these?  Can you explain them to me?   Do they hurt?  I'm so upset that I cry ever time I think of this!

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2005
Total Posts : 8616
   Posted 5/28/2009 8:19 PM (GMT -6)   
Welcome to the forum HurtingHeart!

I've had the nerve conduction test for my legs/hips and for my wrists. It really wasn't painful . . . but there is an electrical signal that goes from one point to another. They monitor how that happens and in my case they were able to spot permanent nerve damage to help them decide how best to treat my symptoms. The worst part of it is that your leg or your hand (or whatever) will jump without you telling it to. . . which is a bit un-nerving - but not painful (for me).

I have not had the muscle biopsy. They were going to consider doing that, but did blood work first. They said if certain bloodwork came back abnormal, they would have done the muscle biopsy . . . but my bloodwork was normal.

I am afraid of needles, shocks, etc too . . . . but to be really honest, my daily pain level had gotten to a point where I welcomed any test that might shed light on what was causing it. So having testing done is a great relieve to rule out or pinpoint what is causing our pain.

Does that help?


In His Grip

AlwaysRosie           "We can't control the waves, but we can learn how to surf!!"

Psalms 139

Co-Moderator - Lupus Forum

UCTD, Inflammatory Arthritis, Diverticulosis, (recent dx - Sjogrens, Crohn’s 4/08)

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Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 58
   Posted 5/29/2009 7:40 AM (GMT -6)   
I've had a nerve conduction study in my arms and hands - it really isn't anything to worry about. It's exactly as Rosie describes, it feels a little strange but nothing more than that. It's good that they're investigating your symptoms. I'm another one who hates needles, although I have to say that will everything that's gone on in the last year, I'm kind of used to them now! I've had more blood taken in the last year than the rest of my life I think, I'm surprised I have any left!

Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2006
Total Posts : 2608
   Posted 5/29/2009 9:22 AM (GMT -6)   

I'm so sorry you're so stressed about the possibility of having to undergo these tests. Who has told you that you might need them? If it wasn't your doctor or nurse, I wouldn't worry needlessly. If your rheumy does, however, want to order them, explain your fear of needles to him and ask for a mild sedative. That would require someone to drive you home afterwards, but it might be a better solution than refusing to undergo necessary tests.

Tell us more about yourself. Are you new to lupus? How old are you? This forum is a wonderful place for all of us to get the support we need as we travel down this crazy winding road. I'm glad you're here, and I hope you'll stick around.

By the way, I've had these tests and they were no big deal, but then needles don't bother me at all. Hang in there, friend. Everything will work out if you'll talk openly with your doctor.

Hang in there,

SLE, fibro, renauds, restless leg, hiatal hernia, double vision, migraines, costocondritis.

prednisone, plaquenil, leflunomide, neurontin, synthroid, triamterene, actonel, niaspan, tri-est, cymbalta, tricor, acifex

Regular Member

Date Joined Jan 2006
Total Posts : 395
   Posted 5/30/2009 9:53 AM (GMT -6)   
and it's good to have you join us! I hate needles, too! But I wanted answers, so..  I had the nerve conduction and EMG tests, but not the muscle biopsy. It was planned but since I was diagnosed,  the dr. left it up to me because the information we might get wouldn't really affect my treatment plan,  I decided I didn't need to have it. At least at that time. I was abit overwhelmed to say the least!! The tests were at my neurologist's office, done by the neurologist and a tech. Scarey, and I am a nurse, and did I mention I HATE needles?? tongue   The needles are little tiny ones, and they offered lidocaine to numb the spots up first, but I said put one in and then I will decide. So it ended up I just had four little tiny jabs, but quick. One in each arm and leg. Not bad at all really, but I didn't look. During the actual test, where you are hooked up to wires that generate waveform tracings, The twitches were a bit ..... unnerving.... smilewinkgrin shall I say, pun intended?? And I said ouch each time just because I wanted to. What I found almost unbearable were the sounds they put in my headphones hooked up to alien looking computers.  Due, I learned later, to nerve inflammation, the sounds in my rt ear almost caused me to stop the test. It wasn't pain, it was as if a violin and nails down a chalkboard were screaming up and down every nerve in my body. It didn't last very long, though.  The nurse was really comforting and chatted to me alot. Cause I told her I HATE NEEDLES!! I was glad it was over, but dreading it was alot worse than the actual tests. It took about and hour and a half all together. Keep us posted,
p.s. I have helped with biopsies, and the dr. will give a few jabs of lidocaine over the spot, and then wait, and then jab for a muscle tissue sample that patients often describe as a quick pinch or little punch. Some get a stitch or two, I have seen several that just got a bandaid. So I hope someone else who actually had one can describe theirs for you.
p.p.s and now for the really funny part..... I am going for acupuncture and the benefits are a blessing but I still hate the needles! smhair

God knows, even if I don't....
CNS Lupus 2005, APS, Hashimoto's Thyroiditis
Meds: Plaquenil, Neurontin, Thyroid, Piroxicam, Aspirin, Atenolol and Norvasc, Prednisone 5mg daily and Paxil, Ambien every night.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2006
Total Posts : 1344
   Posted 5/30/2009 6:00 PM (GMT -6)   
Are you experiencing muscle weakness?  Fatigue?
I also have polymyositis which is an idiopathic inflammatory muscle disease and tests like that are normal to determine if you have it and how bad. 
they are not tests normally ordered for lupus unless you are having muscle problems in which case it would be a good idea to have them.  If you have muscle weakness and your rheumy is recommending these tests you should get them.  You don't want to have something like myositis and not treat it.  If you think lupus is bad .....
Get a second opinion if you are not happy with your doc.
MCTD (lupus, scleroderma, polymyositis).  Diagnosed 2005.  Kidney, liver, GI tract, dysphagia, raynauds, Barretts esophagus, quadriplegic in 2005.  Recovered and now active in skiing, tai, chi, hiking, golf.  Meds: prednisone 2.5mg, imuran 50mg, amlodipine, benazapril, omeprazole, potassium, folic acid, vitamins, maxide and various supplements and vitamins.
Remain optimistic and you can overcome the odds.

Regular Member

Date Joined Oct 2008
Total Posts : 261
   Posted 5/31/2009 8:33 AM (GMT -6)   
Hey there. I have had the nerve study on my legs but may have to get it again on my legs and arms. They are painful but not really scary. As far as the echo, I am getting one done this thursday and had one also when I was 15. They are painless and are an ultrasound of the heart...same kind of ultrasound used in pregnancy. As far as the muscle biopsy they give a shot to numb the area so you may just feel pressure. I would inform your doctor about your fear of needles and they should be able to accomodate. I have to get an MRI with a contrast dye put through an iv on tuesday as well. I am scared of confined spaces and have problems with chlostraphobia so I want to mention that to the technician. I hope this helps and you are not too scared to not get the tests done because they are important! Take care and keep us posted :) -Brittanee
*Wifey & Mommy*

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