What is IMS?
IMS is an effective treatment for acute and chronic pain of neuropathic origin. It is based on scientific neurophysiological principles. IMS involves the insertion of fine acupuncture type needles into the body where muscles have shortened or contracted. It is problems at these points that are often the root of long term pain. While a muscle is tight and contracted it can’t heal properly. With IMS we are trying to stimulate a healing process to help the muscles to relax.
IMS treatment is best suited to treat soft tissue pain that shows no obvious sign(s) of ongoing tissue damage or inflammation, such as many forms of neck/back pain, tennis elbow, frozen shoulder and fibromyalgia, amongst others. It is often effective when other forms of therapy have failed.
NEUROPATHY – What happens when nerves start to go wrong?
Many people are perplexed by pain that shows no sign of tissue damage or inflammation. This type of pain, known as neuropathic pain, typically occurs when nerves malfunction following minor irritation. Nerves and nerve endings become extremely sensitive and cause innocent and harmless signals to be exaggerated and misinterpreted as painful ones. The result is pain even when extensive medical tests show there is “nothing wrong”.
How does IMS work?
IMS is able to treat this neuropathic pain by desensitizing affected nerves and muscles using acupuncture needles. It is important to note that there is no use of electricity with IMS, rather it is the mechanical stimulation of the insertion of the needle into the affected muscles that provides the therapeutic effect. The needle activates a reflex causing the shortened muscle to release and in doing so, eases the pain. Inserting the needle also creates a minor therapeutic injury to the area, stimulating the body to increase local circulation and activate its healing systems.
The technique is particularly effective for deep muscles that can be difficult or impossible to reach with other forms of treatment. For example, there are some muscles around the spine and pelvis that are too deep to be treated with massage and can only be addressed with a needle.
What is the goal of IMS?
IMS directly treats the cause of the pain by relaxing the shortened muscle and allowing it to return to its normal state. 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 released, thereby restoring motion and function.
What are the effects of IMS?
The effects of IMS are cumulative. Each needling session stimulates a certain amount of healing until eventually the condition can more fully recover and pain dissipates as muscles loosen. It is often successful in breaking the chronic cycle of pain because it permits accurate diagnosis of muscle shortening in deep muscles. It provides lasting relief and has few side effects.
Conditions that can be treated using IMS:
A broad range of musculoskeletal problems are now successfully treated using the relatively new technique of Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS). Mike can treat a variety of ailments using IMS including:
*Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
*Chronic Tendonitis or Bursitis
*Chronic “Whiplash” Pain
*Iliotibial Band Syndrome
*Jaw and TMJ Pain
*Low Back Pain
*Myofascial Pain Syndrome
*Myofascial Trigger Points
*Recurrent or Persistent Injuries (including Sports Injuries)
*Repetitive Strain Injuries
*Shoulder Injuries (including Frozen Shoulder)
*Spinal Disc Problems
Who developed IMS?
IMS was developed by Vancouver Physician Dr. Chan Gunn while he was a clinician with the Workers Compensation Board in the 1970’s. Dr. Gunn is currently a clinical professor at the University of Washington and teaches IMS at the world renowned Washington Multidisciplinary Pain Center. He also practices in Vancouver, where he has founded the Physical Medicine Research Foundation and the Institute for the Study and Treatment of Pain (ISTOP)
Dr Chan Gunn has been awarded the Order of British Columbia as well as the Order of Canada, the nation’s highest honour, for his contributions towards solving chronic pain. He has also been elected Honorary Fellow of Peterhouse Cambridge University.
How to Access IMS Treatment
If you think you have a condition that may benefit from IMS, simply call to make an appointment with Mike. Mike will assess you and will offer you advice on the best approach to treating your condition and can answer any further questions that you may have. Mike has been certified by the Institute for the Study and Treatment of Pain, founded by the developer of the IMS technique, Dr. Chan Gunn M.D.
Information and illustrations taken with permission from C. Chan Gunn: The Gunn Approach to the Treatment of Chronic Pain, 2nd Edition, 1996 Churchil Livingstone, New York.