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Surface Electromyography (SEMG)



Surface electromyography (SEMG) measures the electrical activity of individual muscles or muscle groups is detected, amplified, and analyzed by a computer. The most basic information obtainable from an EMG signal is whether the tested muscle was used during a period of exertion.

What is EMG used for?

Electromyography can be performed by licensed technicians and interpretted by medical doctors, typically neurologists, to detect disorders in specific muscle groups. To obtain truly useful information EMG is usually performed with a "Nerve Conduction Study". Thus, accurate information can be obtained with respect to the functioning of specific muscle and peripheral nerves as it is often difficult to tell if abnormal muscle function (usually weakness) is due to a problem directly with the muscle or because of a problen with the nerve the ennervates that muscle. Accurate interpretation of results requires specific skills and training.

This combined test, called an EMG-Nerve Conduction Study, requires that needles be inserted into the tested muscles. Inserting needles into the skin or muscles is not permitted under Chiropractic Practice.

What about the Surface EMG?

A surface EMG (SEMG), although useful for analyzing the overall performance of certain muscle groups, does not give nearly as much useful information as the more invasive EMG. The combined EMG-Nerve Conduction Study provides the most information.

Some chiropractors claim that the test provides an objective measurement of overall spinal health by detecting electrical activity in the muscles along the spine, enabling them to screen patients initially and to follow the progress of their treatment [1]. These claims are farfetched (i.e. false).


Persons suffering from new muscle weakness should see a medical doctor immediately as there are many different possible causes including electrolyte, hormonal, muscular, neurologic, infectious, psychologic, drug intoxications/ interactions, vascular and/or autoimmune disorders.

Only a medical doctor has the training needed to diagnose and treat such conditions. In some cases your doctor may need to refer you to a medical specialist for further testing and/or treatment.


Information about SEMG and Chiropractic uses was obtained from:

"Surface Electromyography (SEMG)" by Samuel Homola, D.C. @ www.Chirobase.Org

Chirobase provides indepth information on many aspects of chiropractic practice.

Doctors Corner INternet Group, Inc. 1997-2004


February 3, 2002