Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS)

Also known as “Dry Needling”, IMS is a modern technique for relieving chronic muscular tension through the use of acupuncture needles.

Intramuscular Stimulation

IMS is particularly well-suited to any condition where chronic muscle shortening or tightness is implicated

During your initial appointment, your physiotherapist will perform a detailed history and examination to determine if IMS is an appropriate treatment for your condition.

IMS needling does not involve the injection of any substance into the tissue. Instead, well-placed needles induce a reflex response that causes a shortened muscle to relax and lengthen. These changes to long-standing muscle tension can be quite profound and often benefit both the local musculature as well as the painful joints affected by these muscles. Click here to learn more.

Uses of IMS include treating:

  • joint pain (even if the joint is deteriorated)
  • pain that presents with no obvious cause of tissue inflammation (i.e., there is no other known underlying condition)
  • reduced ranges of motion
  • compensatory movement patterns
  • chronic muscle tension that just won’t stretch out

IMS can be extremely effective on:

  • Trochanteric Bursitis
  • Rotator Cuff issues
  • Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
  • Cervical Spinal Stenosis
  • Tennis Elbow
  • Post-exercise muscle stiffness
  • Iliotibial (IT) Band Syndrome
  • Achilles Tendinitis/Tendinosis
  • Low back pain
  • Piriformis Syndrome
  • Chronic headaches (especially when originating on the back of the skull)
  • Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) pain
  • Recovering muscle tears (hamstring or quads, for example)
  • Whiplash

How Intramuscular Stimulation Works

IMS involves the insertion of acupuncture needles into muscular tissue, targeting shortened muscles and their dysfunction in the nervous system. When an unhealthy muscle is needled, it produces a cramping or aching sensation – the needle is then kept in place until this sensation dissipates before being removed.

IMS needling produces the following effects:

  • a natural relaxation and lengthening of the muscle which decreases tension and pain
  • improved electrical communication between the nervous system and muscle which improves overall nerve function
  • a minor injury to the muscle which draws blood to the area to stimulate healing

Further Reading on IMS

To learn more about Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS), including background information, techniques, effects, and the differences between IMS and acupuncture, download the articles below.

Getting Started with Intramuscular Stimulation

Book a Physiotherapy Treatment

Ready to book your physiotherapy appointment? Here are some points to consider:

  • you will have time to discuss in detail the risks and benefits with your therapist before getting started and can withdraw your consent for treatment at any time
  • your first visit is a thorough, hands-on assessment, often with a trial of two or four needles
  • the amount of needling will be progressed gradually and comfortably
  • you don’t have to arrive knowing that Intramuscular Stimulation is for you – your physical therapist will work with you to determine the best course of action
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...while helping with my tennis elbow, you thought it worth checking out my upper back, and that’s when the magic really started to happen. Within a week my neck mobility improved by 40%!!

–Wendy S, Nanaimo
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