Intramuscular Stimulation Treatment

Acupuncture on back

IMS Treatments in Kingston

Assessment. Treatment. Pain Relief. Discover the benefits of IMS.

What is IMS?

IMS or Intramuscular Stimulation is a unique approach to understanding the causes and the treatment of persistent musculoskeletal pain syndromes. In these conditions there is no obvious ongoing injury or inflammation so a different perspective is needed. Consistent with the current understanding of persistent pain, at least some of these pain conditions are a result of altered function and hypersensitivity of nerves in the peripheral nervous system. This is known as neuropathic pain. The IMS approach specifically focuses on assessing and treating the dysfunction of the nerve roots as they exit the spine.

IMS was developed by Chan Gunn MD over the course of two decades of working with individuals with persistent pain in Vancouver, British Columbia. Gunn realized that many patients with chronic pain conditions had key features on assessment that could be attributed to specific involved nerve roots. In the Gunn IMS system of diagnosis, examination of soft tissues associated with each nerve root level reveals several findings:

  • Muscle shortening in peripheral & paraspinal muscles
  • Tender focal points in the muscles
  • Signs of altered skin tone and circulation

Gunn found that arthritic change in the spine (spondylosis) was the most common cause of this type of neuropathy. These associated soft tissue changes can be subtle and not immediately obvious without close observation. Diagnosis requires thorough physical examination by a healthcare practitioner with extensive knowledge of anatomy and of musculoskeletal disorders.

IMS Treatment
Back Pain

How does IMS help chronic pain?

Therapeutic effect is achieved by the insertion of thin acupuncture needles with or without electrical stimulation into the affected tissues. This is also known as “dry needling”. Very fine, sterile, stainless steel acupuncture needles are inserted into tight sensitized muscles. This creates a physical release of those muscles as well as other neuro-physiological effects in the surrounding tissues. The needle insertion causes “microtrauma”, which triggers the body’s natural healing response – “Inflammation” – resulting in a reduction of symptoms over time. Pain is also reduced through releasing muscle tone in both peripheral (in the limb) and associated paraspinal (beside the spine) muscles. Treatment of the paraspinal muscles improves the function of the nerves which supply the affected peripheral muscles, tendons and joints. Without releasing the tight muscles, physical stress will continue to adversely compress peripheral joints and spinal discs, and cause the neuropathic pain to persist.

Who Can Benefit From IMS?

Many individuals will find relief with IMS, particularly those with difficult, treatment-resistant chronic pain conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, “pinched nerves” and tendonitis. IMS can effectively help with:

  • Tennis Elbow
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Achilles Tendonitis
  • Sciatica
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Whiplash Disorder
  • Headache
  • “Frozen Shoulder”
  • TMJ disorders
  • Low Back Pain

What Can I Expect with IMS treatment?

Successful treatment always begins with a thorough assessment. The therapist identifies the tissues to target with the dry needling technique. Each person’s experience will vary as treatment is tailored to the patient’s sensitivity and tolerance.  Insertion of the needles will produce a variety of sensations, possibly including a “cramping” sensation as the sensitized muscles react to needle insertion. Frequency of treatment visits varies and is often delivered weekly until a satisfactory outcome is achieved.

Doctor, Patient talk

IMS Treatment at Best Health Physiotherapy

At Best Health Physiotherapy, James Baggs PT is trained in Gunn IMS and has been using it successfully in the care of his patients for over 15 years. Contact us for more information regarding if IMS therapy is right for you or to book an appointment.

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