IMS (Intra Muscular Stimulation)

What is IMS?

Intramuscular stimulation (IMS) is a system of diagnosis and treatment for musculoskeletal pain. Dr. Chan Gunn, a Vancouver physician, developed IMS during the 1970s. People that may benefit from IMS have pain that is often chronic in nature, may not be due to an injury and does not usually resolve with conventional treatments.

In these cases pain may be felt in a muscle, but may actually be the result of a nerve irritation. Each of our muscles is connected to the spine by a nerve. If the muscles around a nerve are tight, the nerve becomes irritated and causes pain along its pathway from the spine to the muscle. IMS helps to release pressure on the nerve by stimulating the tight muscles (both at the site of pain and at the musclesโ€™ corresponding level at the spine) directly using a sterile, single-use acupuncture needle. The needle stimulates receptors in the muscles and creates a change in the input it receives from the nerve supply. This allows the tight muscles to relax and release pressure on the nerve to help relieve pain. A thorough physical examination by one of our certified Gunn IMS physiotherapists is completed to assess the cause of pain and determine if IMS is warranted.


Is IMS treatment painful?

The most common sensations reported during IMS treatment are muscle cramping and deep aching. Depending on the patient and the injury, this may be temporarily painful as well.


What should I expect post-treatment?

Many people experience muscle soreness and general fatigue after receiving IMS treatment. Allowing time to relax and avoiding any strenuous physical activity is recommended. Heat may also help relax tight muscles.


How often will I need IMS treatment?

The needleโ€™s effect on the muscle can last 7-10 days. For this reason, IMS is only administered once per week. Changes may be noted in 2-3 treatments, or may require 6-12 treatments. The number of treatments depends on the affected area and how long the pain has been present. IMS is generally followed-up with an exercise program to strengthen weak muscles help people move better before returning to activity.