IMS (Intra-Muscular Stimulation)
What is IMS?
Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS) is an effective treatment for chronic pain of neuropathic origin, or pain caused by oversensitivity of the nerves. This technique uses fine sterile needles similar to the needles used in acupuncture, to find and diagnose muscle shortening in deep muscles. This technique has few side-effects, and in many cases results in a reduction of muscular pain that can last for decades.
How Does IMS Work?
IMS is a very similar procedure to acupuncture, the main difference is the origins of this treatment. Where acupuncture is a traditional form of medicine, IMS traces its roots directly to Dr. Chan Gunn and his scientific study of the body and how muscular and nervous systems co-exist within the body. The needles used are very thin, and you may not even feel it penetrating the skin, and if your muscle is normal, the needle is painless. However, if your muscle is super-sensitive and shortened, you’ll feel a sensation which is a lot like a muscle cramp or Charlie Horse. This is a distinctive type of discomfort caused by the muscle grasping the needle. Despite the initial feelings of discomfort, patients quickly learn to recognize and welcome this sensation. After a few treatments, this familiar feeling becomes known as a “good” or positive pain because it soon disappears and is followed by a feeling of relief. The muscle is no longer tightening, and the needle will no longer be felt. This is because the needling has caused your abnormal muscle shortening to intensify and then release. Experiencing this sensation is important, as it is a sign of lasting relief.
Myofascial Pain Syndrome
When treating the syndrome known as myofascial pain syndrome which causes chronic pain in muscles, one popular and effective method is the dry-needling technique known as Intra-Muscular Stimulation (IMS). This treatment is based on the concept that the pain in the muscles is caused by a malfunction in the peripheral nerves, a peripheral neuropathy or radiculopathy.
IMS should therefore be focused on the muscle where pain is caused, as well as the paraspinal muscles of the same spinal segment that is connected to the painful muscle via the nervous system. This will help reduce the super-sensitivity felt by the muscle which can lead to muscle shortening and a number of other pain syndromes due to the pull on other related structures in the body such as blood vessels, ligaments, even the skin.