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  • Writer's pictureAdvanced Physiotherapy

What is IMS treatment and how can it help you?

If you suffer from chronic or recurrent muscle pain, you may have heard of Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS) treatment as a possible solution. But what is IMS treatment and how does it work?

IMS is a technique that our certified Gunn Intramuscular Stimulation practitioners use to release or lengthen muscles that may be causing chronic musculoskeletal or neuropathic pain. Neuropathic pain is pain that is caused by nerve irritation or dysfunction, which can affect the muscles that are connected to the nerve. When the muscles are tight, shortened, or weak, they can cause pain and stiffness in the affected area.

physiotherapy patient undergoing dry needling treatment. Advanced Physiotherapy logo.

IMS treatment involves the use of fine, sterile acupuncture needles that are inserted directly into the affected muscle or trigger point . A trigger point is a sensitive spot in a muscle that can cause pain when pressed or stimulated. By inserting the needles into the trigger points, the physiotherapist can stimulate a healing response, release muscle tension, and improve nerve function.

IMS treatment is also known as dry needling, because no medication or substance is injected through the needles . The needles are used to create a small therapeutic injury in the muscle, which triggers the body's natural healing mechanisms and restores optimal muscle function.

What conditions can IMS treat?

IMS treatment can treat a variety of common types of pain and conditions that are caused by muscle tightness or nerve irritation. Some examples are:

  • Headaches

  • Achilles tendonitis

  • Back pain

  • IT band syndrome

  • Whiplash

  • Tennis elbow

  • Frozen shoulder

  • Chronic aching or burning pain

  • Limited range of motion

  • Stiffness in muscles and joints

IMS treatment can also help with conditions that are not directly related to muscle pain, but are affected by muscle function. For example, IMS treatment can help with pelvic floor dysfunction, urinary incontinence, erectile dysfunction, and menstrual cramps.

What to expect from an IMS session?

Before starting an IMS session, we will conduct a thorough physical examination to assess your condition and identify the muscles or trigger points that need to be treated. We will also explain the procedure and answer any questions you may have.

During your IMS session, your physiotherapist will insert one or more needles into the affected muscles or trigger points. The needles are very thin and usually cause minimal discomfort. You may feel a slight prick when the needle enters the skin, followed by a twitch or cramp when the needle hits the trigger point. This is a sign that the muscle is releasing and relaxing .

The needles are usually left in place for a few seconds or minutes, depending on your condition and response. Your physiotherapist may also move or rotate the needles slightly to increase the stimulation. You may feel some soreness or pressure in the area during and after the treatment, but this should subside within 24 hours .

After an IMS session, your physiotherapist will provide advice on how to care for the treated area and prevent further injury. They may also recommend some exercises or stretches to improve your mobility and strength. You should drink plenty of water and avoid strenuous activities for a few hours after the treatment .

How effective is IMS treatment?

IMS treatment is an effective way to treat chronic or recurrent muscle pain that does not respond well to other treatments, such as medication, massage, or heat therapy. IMS treatment can provide immediate relief for some people, while others may need several sessions to achieve lasting results. The effects of IMS treatment are cumulative, meaning that each session builds on the previous one until the entire area is healed and free of pain.

IMS treatment can also improve your overall health and well-being by restoring normal muscle function and nerve activity. This can enhance your posture, movement, balance, coordination, and performance in daily activities or sports.

If you are interested in learning more about IMS treatments, please book an appointment with one of our certified physiotherapists at our White Rock clinic. We will assess your condition and determine if IMS treatment is suitable for you. We will also guide you through the procedure and provide you with personalized care and advice. Contact us today to find out more about IMS treatment and how it can help you.

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