American Association of Neuromuscular & Electrodiagnostic Medicine

View all recommendations from this society

Released February 10, 2015

Don’t do a needle electromyography (EMG) test for isolated neck or back pain after a motor vehicle accident, as a needle EMG is unlikely to be helpful.

Needle EMG for neck pain without arm pain, arm tingling, arm weakness, or arm numbness does not improve outcomes but does increase costs. The same is true of needle EMG for back pain without lower limb pain, lower limb tingling, lower limb weakness, or lower limb numbness. Neck and back pain are both common reasons for physician visits.

These items are provided solely for informational purposes and are not intended as a substitute for consultation with a medical professional. Patients with any specific questions about the items on this list or their individual situation should consult their physician.

How The List Was Created

The Professional Practice Committee (PPC) of the American Association of Neuromuscular & Electrodiagnostic Medicine (AANEM) developed this list of recommendations. The PPC includes both neurologists and physical medicine and rehabilitation (PMR) physicians who come from varying practice settings and also includes the AANEM’s representatives to the American Medical Association (AMA) Current Procedural Terminology Panel and Relative Value Update Committee. The PPC members identified areas to be included on this list based on the greatest potential for overuse/misuse, quality improvement and availability of strong evidence-based research/support in the literature. The committee’s recommendations were discussed at an AANEM Board meeting that included chairs from AANEM committees. The PPC reviewed the feedback from this group and voted on the final Top Ten recommendations. These were then approved by the AANEM Board of Directors.

AANEM’s disclosure and conflict of interest policy can be found at


Braddom RL, Spitz L, Rivner MH. Frequency of radiculopathies in motor vehicle accidents. Muscle Nerve. 2009 Apr;39: 545-7.

Ovadia D, Steinberg EL, Nissan MN, Dekel S. Whiplash injury – a retrospective study on patients seeking compensation. Injury. 2002 Sep;33(7): 569-73.

Steinberg EL, Ovadia D, Nissan M, Menahem A, Dekel S. Whiplash injury: is there a role for electromyography studies? Arch Orthop Trauma Surg. 2005 Feb;125(1):46-50.

Suri P, Hunter DJ, Jouve C, Hartigan C, Limke J, Pena E, Swaim B, Li L, Rainville J. Inciting events associated with lumbar disc herniation. Spine Journal. 2010 may;10:388-95.