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IMS was developed in the 1970’s by the Canadian physician and pain specialist Dr Chan Gunn. It is now being used extensively in Canada and Sweden, and increasingly worldwide
IMS can loosely be described as western form of acupuncture, but in reality it is much more complex.
IMS involves the use of acupuncture needles to specifically target injured or abnormally functioning muscles, which have contracted and become shortened from distress or abnormal nerve function. These shortened muscles can cause pain in the affected muscle itself and also cause pain in the surrounding tendons and joints from the resulting stress of the shortened muscle.
IMS treatment causes the muscle to 'grasp' the needle, which in turn forces the shortened muscle to release, providing pain relief. It is very effective, even on deep muscles.
IMS is most effective for neuropathic or chronic musculoskeletal pain. It is not used for an acute or fresh injury.
Neuropathic pain is a type of pain that is felt due to damage or dysfunction of the nervous system.
Dysfunction can happen without any structural damage to the nerves, which means that x-rays and scans may look normal, but pain may still be present. Ongoing nerve dysfunction can lead to supersensitivity in the pain sensory system where even light touch can cause intense pain.
Whatever the nature of chronic musculoskeletal/neuropathic pain, there is usually some level of muscle spasm present. This muscle spasm can create more stress on the surrounding structures and nerves, resulting in more pain and nerve dysfunction which can trigger further muscle spasm. This vicious circle explains why certain conditions may not be improving.
The goal of treatment is to release the muscle shortening that presses on and irritates the underlying nerves. Supersensitive areas can be desensitized, and the persistent pull of shortened muscles can be released.
IMS can be used for many conditions throughout the body such as achilles tendonitis, tennis elbow, patella tendonits, ITB syndrome, low back pain, neck pain, headaches, shoulder pain, groin pain.
When competently performed, IMS has a remarkable success rate, as proven by the reduction of symptoms and signs, even for extremely long term chronic conditions that may have been present for many months or years.
Traditional Chinese Medicine acupuncture (TCM) involves the ancient philosophy of meridians and the chi for diagnosis and treatment. Acupuncture needles are inserted into pre-determined acupuncture points along the meridians. Effects are usually noticed after a few sessions.
Intramuscular Stimulation acupuncture (IMS) relies on neurology and a Western understanding of anatomy for diagnosis and treatment. Acupuncture needles are inserted into areas of muscle that are assessed as being abnormally tight or shortened, or areas where the nerve meets the muscle. This is often more uncomfortable than TCM acupuncture. Effects are usually noticed immediately.