Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS)

Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS)

What is Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS)?

Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS), also known as Dry Needling,  is a treatment technique that can be used by Physiotherapists to alleviate chronic pain and promote tissue healing. It involves the use of acupuncture needles to stimulate the muscles and nerves. 

At EastWest Physiotherapy in Burnaby, we use Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS) to treat a range of conditions, including back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, headaches, and more.

IMS is based on the principles of traditional Chinese acupuncture, but it focuses more on the muscles and nerves than on the energy pathways (meridians) of the body.

The technique involves inserting a fine needle into the skin and into the muscle tissue, targeting trigger points or knots in the muscle fibers. This stimulates the muscle and nerve, leading to increased blood flow, relaxation of the muscle, and release of pain.

The needles used in IMS are similar to those used in traditional acupuncture, depending on the area of treatment. They are selected to precisely target the trigger points and knots in the muscle to ensure that the treatment is as effective as possible.

Our Physiotherapists uses 3 types of points  

Homeostatic acupuncture points to improve the body’s self-healing potential.

Paraspinal acupuncture points are used to help to stimulate the nerves along the spine. These points can affect the muscles, joints, and ligaments at that spinal level. For example, stimulating C5, 6, and 7 regions of the neck can help with shoulder, arm, and hand pain.

Symptomatic acupuncture points on the area of injury creates a micro-trauma. This can help promote blood circulation to kick start the healing process. For example, these acupuncture points can help a stubborn painful sprained thumb.

What does it feel like? Does it hurt?

During an IMS treatment, you may feel a dull ache or twitch in the muscle, which can be uncomfortable but should not be painful. This sensation is a sign that the needle has reached the affected muscle and is stimulating the trigger points or taut bands of muscle fibers. The discomfort usually lasts only a few seconds and then subsides. After the treatment, you may feel some soreness, similar to the feeling after a strenuous workout, which usually resolves within a day or two.

What are the benefits?

Intramuscular Stimulation is a highly effective treatment for chronic pain, as it targets the root cause of the pain rather than just the symptoms. It can help ‘reset’ the nervous system, changing the chronic nature of the pain.  It is also a safe and non-invasive treatment, as it does not involve any medication or surgery. Many patients who have tried other forms of treatment without success have found relief with IMS.

One of the main benefits of IMS is its ability to promote healing. By stimulating the muscle and nerve, it increases blood flow to the area and encourages the body’s natural healing processes. This can lead to faster recovery times and a reduction in the risk of future injuries.

IMS has also been shown to be effective in treating a wide range of conditions. In addition to chronic pain, it can be used to treat headaches, sports injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, TMJ disorder, and more. It is also often used in conjunction with other forms of therapy, such as physiotherapy and massage therapy, to provide a comprehensive approach to healing.

IMS Physiotherapy Burnaby

Scalp Acupuncture is also used to aid the rehabilitation of other neurological conditions.

These include paralysis, stroke, spinal cord injuries, and Parkinson’s disease.

Our Burnaby Physiotherapists were very fortunate to learn from Dr. Jason Jishun Hao. He is one of the early Scalp Acupuncturists who was educated by the founders of Scalp Acupuncture in China, Dr. Jiao Shun-Fa.


Intramuscular Stimulation Burnaby

The benefits of IMS have been supported by numerous studies and clinical trials. A study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy found that IMS was effective in reducing pain and improving function in patients with chronic low back pain. Another study, published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, found that IMS was effective in treating tension headaches.

In addition to these studies, there is also a growing body of research on the neurophysiological mechanisms behind IMS. A study published in the Journal of Pain found that IMS effectively reduced pain by decreasing the activity of pain-sensing neurons in the spinal cord. Another study, published in the European Journal of Pain, found that IMS was effective in reducing muscle tension by increasing the activity of inhibitory neurons in the spinal cord.

Overall, Intramuscular Stimulation is a highly effective treatment for chronic pain and a range of other conditions. It is safe, non-invasive, and promotes healing by targeting the root cause of the pain. If you are experiencing chronic pain or other symptoms, Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS) may be an effective treatment option for you. 

Contact EastWest Physiotherapy in Burnaby to learn more and schedule a consultation with one of our experienced physiotherapists.


Call 604 398 2936 and speak to any of our staff to learn more or schedule an appointment.
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