There is a lot of info here but if you really want to know the ins and outs of IMS this is a great explanation. (you’ll need about 4 minutes to get through it all 🙂

Myofascial pain syndromes and neuropathic pain can be extremely debilitating. IMS is growing rapidly in popularity as an effective and lasting treatment for chronic tension and pain in the spine and joints. Back pain, tendon problems such as tennis elbow and ilio-tibial band syndrome, headaches and tightness in muscles are examples of conditions where IMS is effective.

IMS is a total system for the diagnosis and treatment of myofascial pain syndromes causing chronic pain. IMS is grounded in Western Medical Science and has a solid foundation in its radiculopathic model of pain, which is supported by many experts in the field. It was developed by Dr. Chan Gunn while he was a physician at the Worker’s Compensation Board of British Columbia in the 70’s, where he investigated the large number of mysteriously stubborn cases after frustration with the ineffective modalities at his disposal. The treatment, which utilizes acupuncture needles because they are the thinnest implements available that are designed to penetrate deep within muscle tissue, specifically targets injured muscles that have contracted and become shortened from distress. The aim of treatment is to release shortened muscles. Shortened muscles can cause problems such as chronic back pain, headaches and neck pain, ilitiotibial band syndrome, foot and heel pain, tennis elbow, hip pain and fascists.

Super-sensitivity and muscle shortening cannot be operated on and ‘cut away,’ while ‘painkillers’ and other analgesic pills only mask the pain (often poorly) and promote toxicity, compounding the problem. Neuropathy only responds to a physical input of energy.

IMS relies heavily on a thorough physical examination of the patient by a competent practitioner, trained to recognize the physical signs of neuropathic pain. This physical examination is indispensable since chronic pain is often neurological as opposed to structural, and therefore, invisible to expensive X-rays, MRI Tests, Bone and CT Scans. Failure to recognize these signs will result in an inaccurate diagnosis, and thus, a poor starting point for physical therapy.

The treatment involves dry needling of affected areas of the body without injecting any substance. The needle sites can be at the epicenter of taut, tender muscle bands, or they can be near the spine where the nerve root may have become irritated and super-sensitive. Penetration of a normal muscle is painless; however, a shortened, super-sensitive muscle will ‘grasp’ the needle in what can be described as a cramping sensation. The result is threefold. First, a stretch receptor in the muscle is stimulated, producing a reflex relaxation (lengthening). Secondly the needle also causes a small injury that draws blood to the area, initiating the natural healing process. Thirdly the treatment creates an electrical potential in the muscle to make the nerve function normally again. The needle used in IMS, by stimulating muscle spindles, essentially becomes a specific and unique tool for the diagnosis of Neuropathic Muscle Pain.

The goal of treatment is to release muscle shortening, which presses on and irritates the nerve. Super-sensitive areas can be desensitized, and the persistent pull of shortened muscles can be released. IMS is very effective for releasing shortened muscles under contracture, thereby causing mechanical pain from muscle pull. IMS, in effect, treats the underlying neuropathic condition that causes the pain. When competently performed, IMS has a remarkable success rate, as proven by the amelioration of symptoms and signs, even for chronic back pain with root signs.

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