What is Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS)?
Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS) is an effective treatment for chronic pain of neuropathic origin. This technique uses needles similar to the needles used in acupuncture to find and diagnose muscle shortening in deep muscles. This technique has few side-effects.
IMS was developed by Dr. Chan Gunn who has been awarded The Order of British Columbia as well as The Order of Canada, the nation’s highest honor, for his contributions towards solving chronic pain.
Dr. Gunn had introduced “neuropathic pain”, to describe this type of pain. Typically this occurs when nerves malfunction following minor irritation. Nerves and nerve-endings become extremely sensitive and cause innocent, harmless signals to be exaggerated and misperceived as painful ones. (This characteristic is known medically as supersensitivity). The result is pain, even when extensive medical tests show there is “nothing wrong”. Until recently, supersensitivity has received little attention in medical circles.
Although IMS uses implements adapted from traditional acupuncture, it is based on scientific, neurophysiological principles. The acupuncture needles used are very thin (much thinner that the hollow needle used to inject medicine or take blood samples). You may not even feel it penetrating the skin, and if your muscle is normal, the needle is painless.
However, if your muscle is supersensitive and shortened, you’ll feel a peculiar sensation – like a muscle cramp or Charlie Horse. This is a distinctive type of discomfort caused by the muscle grasping the needles. Patients soon learn to recognize and welcome this sensation. They call it a “good” or positive pain because it soon disappears and is followed by a wonderful feeling of relief no longer tight, you no longer feel it. What has happened is that the needling has caused your abnormal muscle shortening to intensity and then release. It is important that you experience this sensation in order to gain lasting relief.
The effects of IMS are cumulative – needling stimulates a certain amount of healing, until eventually, the condition is healed and the pain disappears. Some patients treated with IMS have remained pain-free for over 20 years.
How does it work?
What does treatment involve?
Each treatment involves multiple needle insertions. Typically, areas which are contributing to your pain will be more painful to treat than areas that are not. Interestingly, where we treat is often not where you feel the pain. It is all connected! A trial series of treatment is typically 3 to 10 sessions booked roughly 2 weeks apart.
How much does it cost?
IMS consult costs $175
IMS treatment/follow-up costs $150
Risks mainly depend on the injected areas. Your doctor will discuss these risks with you. Side effects may include:
small amount of bleeding at the site of needle insertion
bruising that can be visible for several days
temporary flare up of pain or general soreness