Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS)/Dry Needling
What is it?
Acupuncture is the practice of inserting thin needles into specific points in the body. This treatment technique has been used for thousands of years in China and more recently since the 1970s in Western Medicine. Acupuncture stimulates the balance and flow of Qi energy that in Traditional Chinese Medicine is considered essential to health. When the body is healthy, Qi (pronounced chee), flows smoothly through the meridians that make up a conceptual network of pathways throughout the entire body. When the balance or flow of Qi is deficient or obstructed it may be diseased or susceptible to illness. Acupuncture treats both the symptoms andthe root causes of the patient’s illness.
Acupuncture produces changes in nerves, muscles, connective tissue (fascia), hormones and circulation. By stimulating specific points, acupuncture releases the body’s own painkillers: endorphin and serotonin. Acupuncture impacts the muscular, skeletal, neurological, digestive, respiratory, urinary and reproductive systems. Acupuncture is most effective when used in combination with exercise therapy and other manual therapy techniques.
What is IMS?
Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS) is a dry needling technique that uses acupuncture needles to release shortened and tender muscle bands from neuro-musculoskeletal dysfunction. It is a diagnostic and treatment tool for myofascial pain of neuropathic origins. This treatment technique was first developed by Dr. Chan Gunn (C.M., O.B.C., M.D., PhD.), and bridges the gap between traditional Chinese acupuncture and western medicine. This treatment technique involves the insertion of fine needles into stiff muscles and is highly effective to treat chronic pain and very stiff muscles.
During IMS treatment the needle sites can be at the centre of taut, tender muscle bands, or they can be near the spine where the nerve root may have become irritated and supersensitive. Inserting an needle into normal muscle is painless; however, a shortened, supersensitive muscle will ‘grasp’ the needle in what can be described as a cramping sensation. Once a stretch receptor in the muscle is stimulated, a relaxation (lengthening) reflex is stimulated. The insertion of the needle also causes a small injury that draws blood to the area, initiating the natural healing process. Finally, the treatment creates an electrical potential in the muscle to make the nerve function normally again.
The goal of treatment is to release muscle shortening, which presses on and irritates the nerve. Supersensitive areas can be desensitized, and the persistent pull of shortened muscles can be released. IMS is very effective for releasing shortened muscles that are always contracted and chronically shortened. IMS uses the same needles as acupuncture to promote relaxation and lengthening of the muscle. IMS/Dry Needling, can be used a part of your treatment plan by trained therapists.
What can I expect from acupuncture treatment?
The number and location of needles used will vary based on your condition and treatment goals. Some notice the effects of treatment on their first visit, while others clients might need multiple treatment to see benefits. Acupuncture is not painful. The needles will be left in your skin for 5-30 minutes dependant on the treatment.
What to expect from IMS treatment?
No substance in injected into the body during IMS treatment. Treatments are generally recommended once per week, however this varies highly depending on the individual. During your treatment you might experince a cramping sensation as the affected muscle is lengthened, followed by mild cramping or tenderness after your treatment.