Neurology Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is an EEG?
A: An EEG (electroencephalogram) is a test where wires and electrodes are temporarily pasted to your head to monitor your brain wave activity. An EEG is routinely used to evaluate patients who have seizures, convulsions, blackout spells, spells of unusual behavior, or confusion and memory loss. It is a painless, non-invasive test which evaluates your brain waves, much like an ECG evaluates your heart’s electrical activity.

Q: What is an NCS (Nerve Conduction Study)?
A: An NCS is an electrical test of the nerves in your face, arms, and legs. It is used to help evaluate symptoms such as numbness, tingling, pins and needles sensations, burning pain, and sharp/shooting pains of the hands, feet, or face. The test uses electrodes placed on the skin overlying the nerves. A very tiny electrical current is then passed through the nerve to assess its function. Patients experience minimal discomfort (a tiny electrical shock), and usually tolerate this test without much difficulty.

Q: What is an EMG?
A: An EMG (electromyogram) is a test where muscle and nerve function are evaluated using a very thin needle. Unlike a NCS, there is no electrical stimulation. However, a very thin, sterile needle is inserted in various muscles of the arm, leg, and paraspinal areas to determine if they are functioning normally. A microscopic microphone is located at the tip of the needle, which listens for abnormal sounds associated with unhealthy muscles. Depending on which muscles sound unhealthy, an EMG may determine which nerves in the neck or back are irritated or injured. This is often seen in radiculopathies, otherwise known as “pinched nerves.” Various muscle disorders and neurodegenerative disorders are also evaluated with an EMG.

Q: Who performs the NCS and EMG studies?
A: Related to Neurology services at Carolina NeuroSurgery & Spine Associates, board-certified and fellowship-trained neurologist Ki Jung, MD, performs his patient's NCS/EMG testing. He is specifically trained in neurophysiology and is board-certified in clinical neurophysiology. The actual performance and interpretation of NCS and EMG studies requires specialized training during the years of residency and fellowship training.

Q: How do I know if I have migraines?
A: Do headaches cause you to feel nauseated? Do you have sensitivity to bright lights during your headaches? Do you have to stop what you are doing when you get a headache? If you answered “yes” to 2 or 3 of these 3 questions, there is a 90% chance that you have migraines, and you should ask your doctor for a referral to a neurologist.* (*The ID Migraine Validation Study, Neurology 2003; 61:375-382)

Q: How do I know if I had a seizure?
A: If you have ever blacked out and cannot remember what happened, or had uncontrollable jerking/twitching with our without the loss of consciousness, you may have experienced a seizure. You should consult your doctor to determine if you had a seizure and what your next steps are, which may include a referral to a neurologist. You can also call our office directly for an appointment with Dr. Jung and his team at 704-831-4145.

Educational Links for further learning and research can be found on the following websites:

American Academy of Neurology

American Stroke Association

American Council for Headache Education

The Epilepsy Foundation

National Multiple Sclerosis Society

The Neuropathy Association

Muscular Dystrophy Association

Alzheimer’s Association

The National Parkinson Foundation

Centers of Disease Control and Prevention

World Health Organization

Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America, Inc.