Skip links

IMS (Intramuscular Stimulation) / Dry Needling

IMS / Dry needling

Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS), sometimes referred to as dry needling (DN), is an ideal treatment for chronic pain of neuropathic origin. Neuropathic pain occurs when nerves malfunction after an accident such as whiplash from a car accident, a back injury or repetitive strain in your elbow.

When your nerves get irritated, they can become very sensitive and painful. This can cause your muscles to tighten and shorten. With this muscle tightness comes changes in your blood flow which then turns normal sensory inputs into painful ones.

It involves the use of thin, filiform needles (acupuncture needles) needles are used to penetrate the skin and stimulate underlying myofascial trigger points. Trigger points are very irritable spots in a tight muscle band that are painful and can cause referred pain.

This technique is used to relieve pain and muscle tension, increase circulation, and promote healing. It is a safe, effective and efficient treatment.

How does it work?

IMS works by treating the tightened bands of muscle, called trigger points, that cause chronic and painful conditions.

Once the connective tissue of a muscle or group of muscles is injured, healing stimulation is needed to correct the injury. Acupuncture needles are inserted at precise spots within these shortened muscles to loosen and lengthen the tissue.

In order for the body to move freely, the nerves and muscles must work in cooperation. When nerves become inflamed or are damaged, the muscles directed by those nerves become weakened and tender. This can be part of the condition referred to as neuropathic pain.

IMS / Dry needling

The treatment

During IMS treatment, knots within the muscles are loosened by targeting specific points along the muscle bands surrounding the centre of pain and the affected segments.

IMS succeeds in treating soreness even in cases where there are limited discernible indications of tissue damage or inflammation, such as for tennis elbow, whiplash, headaches, frozen shoulder, and other chronic pain issues. Regular IMS can be effective in easing chronic pain and muscle dysfunction by locating and treating knots in the deepest muscles.

When an IMS needle is inserted into a normal muscle supplied by a healthy nerve, there is little to no discomfort. However, when a needle targets an area in the muscle that is sore and tight, there can be cramping and tenderness.

Conditions treated by dry needling (DN)

Dry needling has successfully been used to treat a variety of conditions including:

  • Headaches and neck pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Back and hip pain
  • Plantar fasciitis (heel pain)
  • Acute and chronic tendonitis
  • Elbow pain
  • Knee pain
  • Post-surgical pain
  • Post-traumatic injuries
  • Hand wrist pain
  • Shin / ankle / foot pain
  • Athletic and sports-related overuse injuries
  • Other chronic pain conditions

The recovery

Patients often feel immediate improvement in the treated areas.

Sometimes a low level of discomfort is felt for a few days following the procedure, though this should be followed by less soreness, increased range of movement, and better overall functioning. Upon completion of a group of sessions, many patients report a full recovery of the condition and complete relief from pain in the treated areas.

To book an appointment, Call us today at (778) 366-8888 or contact us here.

Frequently asked questions

Both IMS and dry needling are interchangeable terms used for a treatment technique that involves using an acupuncture needle to generate a localized twitch response in an overactive muscle to treat pain of a neuropathic origin.

It is normal to experience some soreness for 24 to 48 hours after an IMS treatment. It normally feels like you have done a hard workout at the gym. It may be helpful to continue normal physical activity and drink lots of water to help reduce soreness.

When a nerve is accidently struck with an acupuncture needle, the patient may experience a sharp electrical sensation at the point of entry that extends down its distribution (ex. If you strike the sciatic nerve in the buttock it is possible to experience pain down the back of the leg that extends in to the foot). Typically this discomfort only lasts for a second.

Treatment frequency is normally once, twice or more per week depending on patient response.

Dry needling is a modern science based treatment technique that targets myofascial trigger points for the treatment of pain and movement disorders. Acupuncture is an element of traditional Chinese medicine that focuses on Chi flow, or energy, along meridians in the body. Dry needling is a dynamic technique that incorporates the use of a single needle to stimulate affected tissues, while acupuncture typically involves several needles that are left in place for up to 20 minutes.

The purpose of dry needling intervention is to modify nervous system patterns that drive complex movements. Treatment tends to have a cumulative effect, becoming most impactful after 3-6 sessions. You may experience relief for weeks afterwards. In order to have permanent change, a specific graduated exercise program is required to normalize the movement patterns that caused the issue in the first place.

The most common risks associated with dry needling are temporarily increased pain or discomfort that lasts for 24-48 hours, bruising or bleeding at the treatment site as a skin reaction, fainting and fatigue. The more serious, but very rare risks include pneumothorax (air in lung cavity) but this is auto recovered. If you get persistence dry cough or dizziness then medical attention is required.

Are you in pain?

Let our professional physical therapist help you today. Don’t let a minor ache become a major injury.

Get started now