An EMG is an electromyography, and it is a procedure that measures the electrical activity produced by the skeletal muscles. Essentially it works by reading the electrical “potential” made by each muscle when it is activated by an electric current or neurologically. It is typically requested by a doctor when the patient has symptoms of muscle weakness, numbness, tingling, atrophy in a muscle or muscle group, or pain in a particular extremity. The test is performed using a small needle that is placed into the muscle. Electrical signals travel from the needle to the EMG machine. These signals are recorded and reviewed by the doctor. The test also includes an examination of electrical impulses for nerve conduction. This portion of the test evaluates the nerve pathways through the spinal cord.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)is a medical test where magnets and radio waves, read and interpreted by a computer, take and evaluate images of the human body. Your doctor can use this test, along with the EMG, to help diagnose your injury. An MRI study does not involve any radiation. It also gives a very clear picture of not just bony structures, but also surrounding soft tissue, as well as disc material between the vertebra.
Used in conjunction with an EMG, these two tests can give doctors a very good image of what is going on with the spinal cord, nerve roots as well as surrounding muscles and structures. The doctors that typically prescribe these types of tests are chiropractors, orthopedists, neurologists, neurosurgeons, and physiatrists.
How MRI Results Can Effect an Accident Case
The results of an MRI study on an injury to the spine can show disc herniations, protrusions, and bulges. These terms can be helpful in changing the case from what insurance companies call a “soft tissue” case to something more serious and permanent. However, one caveat is that many MRI findings show degeneration in the spine (sometimes read as osteophytes) and/or degeneration in the discs. This is typically not the result of trauma.
Compensation for Back and Neck Injuries Following an Accident
Nevertheless, at Carpey Law we would be able to use these studies to establish with the insurance company that the old legal adage applies, that “the defendant takes the plaintiff as he is found.” Thus, even in the situation where degenerative changes are shown, and not just traumatic changes, preexisting problems in the neck or back that were not causing problems before the accident, but now are painful, can and should result in compensation for the accident victim. Stuart Carpey has successfully argued this very point to juries and received compensation for his clients, not just for the specific injury, but also for the increase in pain caused by the defendant’s negligence.