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IMS Dry Needling

National Spine Care | Downtown Calgary IMS Dry Needling

What is IMS Dry Needling?

Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS) is a total system for the diagnosis and treatment of myofascial pain syndromes. These are pain conditions that occur in the musculoskeletal system when there is no obvious sign of injury or inflammation.

National Spine Care | Downtown Calgary IMS Dry NeedlingIMS is grounded in Western Medical Science and has a solid foundation in its nerve model of pain, which is now supported by many experts in the field.  It was developed by Dr. Gunn while he was a physician at the Worker’s Compensation Board of British Columbia in the 70′s. Dr. Gunn investigated a large number of mysteriously stubborn cases after frustration with the ineffective modalities at his disposal. The treatment specifically targets injured muscles that have contracted and become shortened from distress.

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.

At National Spine Care, our physiotherapists are certified in the Gunn technique of IMS as well as Dry Needling.

The treatment involves using tiny acupuncture needles to the 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, supersensitive muscle will ‘grasp’ the needle in what can be described as a cramping sensation.  The result is threefold:

  1. A stretch receptor in the muscle is stimulated, producing a reflex relaxation (lengthening).
  2. The treatment encourages blood supply to the area, initiating the natural healing process.
  3. The treatment creates an electrical potential in the muscle to make the nerve function normally again.

The goal of treatment is to release muscle shortening, which presses on and irritates the nerve.  Supersensitive areas can be desensitized, and the persistent pull of shortened muscles can be released, easing any mechanical pain this muscle contraction may have been causing.  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 relief of symptoms and signs, even for chronic back pain, neck pain and nerve pain.

What is the Difference between IMS Dry Needling & Acupuncture?

IMS is comparable in some ways to acupuncture; however, there are a number of important differences. IMS requires a medical examination and diagnosis by a practitioner knowledgeable in anatomy. Needle insertions are indicated by physical signs and not according to predefined, non-scientific meridians while subjective and objective effects are usually experienced immediately.


Call us at (403) 270-7252 to
book your Calgary IMS Dry Needling consultation appointment today!

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