Intramuscular Stimulation

~ for the treatment of chronic pain ~

P3 Physiotherapy is very excited to offer this extremely effective assessment and treatment tool to patients suffering from chronic pain in the Ottawa area. We hope that you will be as astounded as we have been by its effectiveness in the treatment of neuropathy and associated myofascial pain syndromes.

As this treatment may be unfamiliar to you, we have prepared a brief description of IMS.

Dr. Gunn developed this technique in the early 1970’s in Vancouver after being frustrated by ineffective treatment for patients with chronic muscle pain. According to Dr. Gunn, the most common cause of nerve pathology is spondylosis. The spinal nerve is the most vulnerable point to be irritated thus causing radiculopathy, considered the underlying cause of chronic pain.

Even a mild injury to an unhealthy nerve, previously irritated or defective will produce prolonged discharge of pain signals. This may be a plausible explanation as to how severe chronic pain can result following even a minor injury as in some MVA patients. Acute injury to a healthy nerve will not cause prolonged discharge of pain signals.

Normal nerve and muscle function rely on intact innervation to provide a regulatory or “trophic” effect. When the flow of motor impulses is blocked, “disuse supersensitivity” results as the effector organ is deprived of excitatory input as well as in associated spinal reflexes. This nerve, which is not functioning properly, becomes supersensitive and will behave erratically. Supersensitivity can manifest as autonomic, sensory and motor changes.

The most common structure where supersensitivity occurs is in striated muscle. Neuropathy causes increased muscle tone and causes concurrent muscle shortening which can cause a large variety of mechanical pain syndromes such as tendonitis or increased joint pressure resulting from shortened muscles acting across a joint as in the case of arthralgias or facet joint syndromes. Muscle shortening can eventually bring about degenerative changes - osteoarthritis.

The objective of IMS treatment is to decrease pain by desensitizing supersensitive structures, thereby restoring motion and function.

Following a thorough assessment to determine the level of neuropathy, an acupuncture needle is inserted into muscle points creating an increase in sensory and motor impulses, which reverse the effects of input deprivation. The needle injury causes local inflammation thereby stimulating healing by stimulating collagen and protein formation. The insertion of the needle also generates an electrical potential, essential for healing.

IMS indications

  • Persons with chronic muscle pain
  • Deactivation of hyperactive muscles when restoring normal movement patterns
  • Releasing tone at a hypertrophic muscle interface that is contributing to adverse neural tissue tension

IMS vs. Acupuncture

IMS Acupuncture
  • Examination is imperative
  • Diagnosis is necessary
  • Needle insertion is indicated by physical signs
  • Knowledge of anatomy is essential
  • Prompt subjective and objective effects are usually experienced
  • Medical examination is not applicable
  • Medical diagnosis is not relevant
  • Needle insertion according to Chinese philosophy into non-scientific meridians
  • Knowledge of anatomy is not applicable
  • No immediate objective changes are anticipated

Thank you for taking the time to read this overview of intramuscular stimulation. We are convinced that this treatment technique can be beneficial to your health and well being. We are looking forward to the opportunity of working with you in the near future.

For more information on IMS, follow the link to the Institute for the Study and Treatment of Pain in Vancouver, founded by Dr. Gunn:

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