Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS)

We can offer IMS with a specific focus on intramuscular stimulation and rehab. Ask us if IMS might be a good choice for you!

IMS: what is it?

Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS) is a full assessment and treatment approach for myofascial pain syndromes that are of neuropathic origin (nerve generated). IMS treatment utilizes sterile acupuncture needles to specifically target muscles that are shortened as a result of neuropathic pain. IMS treatment involves dry needling the affected areas of the body.  Dry needling is an effective treatment for acute and chronic pain, rehabilitation from injury, and even injury prevention.

How does IMS work?

The dry-needling causes 3 things to happen in the muscle:

  1. A stretch receptor in the muscle is stimulated, producing a reflex relaxation (lengthening).
  2. The needle causes a small injury that draws blood to the area, initiating the natural healing process.
  3. The treatment creates an electrical potential in the muscle to make the nerve function normally again.

What are the benefits of IMS?

The goal is to release muscle shortening, which presses on and irritates the nerve. Super-sensitive areas can be desensitized, and the persistent pull of shortened muscles can be released. IMS is very effective for releasing shortened muscles under contracture, thereby causing mechanical pain from muscle pull. IMS, in effect, treats the underlying neuropathic condition that causes the pain.

How many treatments will I need?

The number of treatments needed differs from person to person. For complex or long-standing conditions, one or two treatments a week for several months may be recommended. For acute problems, usually fewer visits are required, and for health maintenance, four sessions a year may be all that is necessary.

Are there any side effects to the treatment?

Usually not. Occasionally, the original symptoms worsen for a few days, or other general changes in appetite, sleep, bowel or urination patterns, or emotional state may be triggered. These should not cause concern, as they are simply indications that the IMS is starting to work.

What are the needles like? Do they hurt?

People experience IMS needling differently. Most patients feel only minimal pain as the needles are inserted; some feel no pain at all. Once the needles are in place, there is no pain felt. Acupuncture needles are very thin and solid and are made from stainless steel. The point is smooth (not hollow with cutting edges like a hypodermic needle) and insertion through the skin is not as painful as injections or blood sampling. The risk of bruising and skin irritation is less than when using a hollow needle. Because only disposable needles are used, there is no risk of infection from the treatments.

Is IMS covered by health insurance plans?

More and more insurance companies are covering IMS costs as they are realizing that they will save money in the long run by having healthier clients. At Saanich Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic we are able to bill for IMS Acupuncture under Physiotherapy Services.