IMS involves the insertion of thin acupuncture type needles into tight contracted knots or bands in the affected muscle, often called trigger points. By placing the needle into this tightened area, it then stimulates a contraction and subsequent relaxation of the muscle. This works well with neuropathic pathologies that are both chronic and acute, such as low back pain, tennis elbow, Achilles tendinopathy but also with postural dysfunction where the tight muscle is pulling the body out of alignment.
IMS does not work well with inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, or neuropathic conditions such as Parkinson’s. Also, IMS is not recommended during pregnancy, if you have had recent surgery or if there is a local infection in the area.
After as little as one or two treatments, less chronic conditions should feel an improvement of symptoms and for more chronic conditions (three or more months of symptoms) further sessions are usually needed, generally between five to ten times. The treatment may be uncomfortable as the muscle contracts initially around the needle, and you may be achy for several hours after the treatment before experiencing an improvement in the mobility of the area and a decrease in previous discomfort.
Intramuscular stimulation was developed by Dr. Chan Gunn M.D. and a physiotherapist who utilizes IMS is certified by the Institute for Study and Treatment of Pain, otherwise known as the iSTOP clinic.