Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Electromyography Diagnostic Procedure

A few weeks ago, I felt pain on my left arm, a tingling sensation on my left palm and a little numbness on my left middle and ring finger tips.  At first, I did not pay attention to what I felt on my left arm thinking that the pain would just go away but after a week, the pain was still there and sometimes it wakes me early in the morning so I decided to have it checked by a doctor.

After listening to my complaints, the doctor requested me to undergo two test.  One of the tests was electromyography or EMG.  As the doctor explained, electromyography or EMG is a diagnostic procedure that will help to detect the cause of the pain and numbness that I feel on my left arm. 

The procedure was not available at my doctor's clinic so they referred me to Makati Medical Center.  The electromyography section at Makati Medical Center was fully booked that time and I was scheduled for the procedure after one week.  The procedure can't be charged to my health card since I was just a member for less than one year so I have to shoulder the expenses.  I asked how much the procedure costs and the person-in charge told me that it costs 3,250 pesos (approximately 76 US dollars) ... wow that costs a lot but I have no choice.  We need to know what causes the pain on my arm so the doctor will know how to deal with it.

On the scheduled date for my EMG procedure, I went back to Makati Medical Center Electromyography Section and there, I was made to fill-up a form asking for my medical history, have me read a form which details how the procedure will be done and I was also made to sign a waiver.  At first I was nervous because I was thinking that if a certain medical procedure requires you to sign any waiver, it means that the procedure is delicate and it involves risks but the attending staff assured me that the waiver is just a standard operating procedure and that the test is safe and the pain from the procedure is tolerable.

I was assisted to a small room with one patient bed and beside the bed is a medical equipment attached to a computer.  I was made to sit on the bed and rest my arms on a pillow which was positioned on my lap.  The staff requested me to take off my watch and ring.  There are two staffs attending to the procedure which I learned later as the technologist and the electromyographer.

As stated on the procedure details and mentioned by the technologist, the test will be divided into two parts.  The first is that they will introduce very small electrical charges on different parts of my arms and next is that they will insert a very thin needle on my skin.  Speaking about electrical charges and needles, I'm expecting a painful test.

The technologist plastered cables on my left arm starting on my middle finger then pushed a small button, I felt the electrical charge at the point where the cable was plastered on my arm but it's not painful ... it only surprises me even though I'm looking at the whole procedure all the the time.  The electromyographer looks at the waveform indicated on the monitor and inputs some notes on the computer.  The technologist transferred the cables and repeated the procedure on my wrist, elbow and upper arm and the electromyographer still monitors the waveforms, inputting some notes from time to time.  I was amazed at how my hand moves every time the technologist pushes the small button.  The whole test was also done on my right arm.

On the second part of the test the electromyographer inserted a thin needle on my palm along my thumb.  The needle was attached with a cable to the computer and I can hear the sound of fireworks on the computer.  The sound becomes louder whenever the electromyographer moves my thumb.  Although the needle was just inserted on the outer part of the skin, I felt a little pain but as what they have said, the pain was tolerable.  I even enjoyed the sounds produced on the computer which were like fireworks.

The whole EMG procedure on both my arms was done for almost 20 minutes and I went back to the reception area and after 10 minutes, the result was released.  The conclusion on my EMG test report stated that I have a Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

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