Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS)

Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS)

To understand IMS, first you must understand chronic pain.

Chronic pain can occur with either ongoing trauma or inflammation such as occurs with rheumatoid arthritis or it can occur in the absence of ongoing trauma ( e.g. post MVA, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain). IMS treats chronic pain of the latter origin. This pain is neuropathic pain. Neuropathic pain results when the nerves malfunction following relatively minor trauma. This leads to supersensitivity in the tissues that those nerves supply, most noticeably (for patients) the muscles. The result of the nerve and tissue supersensitivity is pain, even when extensive medical tests show there is “nothing wrong”. In the muscle tissue, this supersensitivity leads to shortening.

When this muscle shortening occurs around the spinal muscles, compression of the disc, spinal joints and consequently the spinal nerves can occur, creating a vicious cycle of pain and dysfunction.

Because the nerves affected not only supply the muscle tissue but supply the skin, organs etc, many other, often un-noticed effects of neuropathy can be seen upon examination of patients with chronic pain. These effects can include:

  • Coldness of the skin in patchy areas
  • Goosebumps
  • Excessive perspiration over the painful area
  • Often there is excess fluid in the subcutaneous tissues (under the skin), as in trophedema
  • Localized hair loss
  • Brittle nails
  • Psoriasis.

IMS was developed by Dr Gunn while he was a clinical physician at the Worker’s Compensation Board of BC. IMS uses acupuncture needles. The needles are extremely fine (0.3mm diameter) and you may not even feel it penetrate the skin. If your muscle is normal, the needle is painless. However if your muscle is supersensitive and shortened, you’ll feel a sensation like a deep, achy, muscle cramp. This discomfort is followed by release as the muscle relaxes.

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Burrard Physiotherapy one of the leading clinics in Vancouver and is home to 12 highly skilled physiotherapists, 2 massage therapists, kinesiologists, yoga instructor, pilates instructor and exercise therapists.

The Effects of IMS

  • The result is threefold.
  • A stretch receptor in the muscle is stimulated, producing a reflex relaxation (lengthening).
  • The needle also causes a small injury that draws blood to the area, initiating the natural healing process.
  • The treatment creates an electrical potential in the muscle to make the nerve function normally again.
  • The effects of IMS are cumulative. Eventually the condition is healed and the pain disappears.

Frequency of Treatments

Treatments are usually once a week to allow time between treatments for the body to heal itself. The number of treatments you require will depend on several factors such as the duration and extent of your condition, how much scar tissue there is (usually increased after previous surgery) and how quickly your body can heal. The rate of healing depends on the condition of your nerves and tissues. A healthy cardiovascular system is a prime indicator of this. In published studies of patients with low back pain, the average number of IMS treatments required was 8.2.

For further information, talk to any one of our IMS certified practitioners at Burrard Physiotherapy.

Reviews from the web
Rated 4.3/5 based on 49 google reviews
5 out of 5

After a couple of failed visits to other clinics, Linda Warren gave me the confidence the physiotherapy does exist and is useful. Her genuine interest in my condition (bike accident), professional attitude and all the information she provided helped me understand what's wrong and how it will get better. Her therapy is also helping relieve the pain and the worry associated with it. I feel like she could be my regular physiotherapist going forward.

5 out of 5

Great location, and the hours are pretty good. Just minutes away from my boyfriends west end condo so I usually walk over.

5 out of 5

This clinic has helped me a lot. I used to go for massage therapy when I had a muscle injury (Erika is great) and then for another injury I tried IMS. I'm legit terrified of needles but a friend told me to try it, and it did wonders. Farhana (I hope I spelled that right!) is amazing, a few sessions fixed me right up, much less painful than massaging the muscles. I am very grateful to the staff - they've kept me on my feet (literally).

5 out of 5

I went for a bike fitting with Thomas, a couple of months ago. He was friendly, knowledgeable and provided a full report after the fitting. He took the time to listen and understand my history and approached the fitting in a thorough and careful way. Cheers Thomas

5 out of 5

I've been going to Burrard Physiotherapy for almost a month after a triceps tear lead to arm, shoulder, and neck pain, and have been working with Kevin Chen. He's incredibly knowledgeable, kind, and receptive, and the improvement with my pain and discomfort is noticeable. The environment is clean and comforting, and the receptionists always greet you in a warm way. Treatment always starts on time too.

A mainstay of Physiotherapy practice in Downtown Vancouver.

Burrard Physiotherapy is an amalgamation of two outstanding physiotherapy clinics in downtown Vancouver. Burrard Physiotherapy Associates was established in 1982 as was Burrard Physiotherapy Clinic each of these businesses operated out of separate locations one block apart.

It wasn't until local Kerry Maxwell purchased both clinics in 2004 and 2005 that they merged to become Burrard Physiotherapy. The clinic is driven to provide an outstanding level of care and recovery for patients. Each of the therapists at Burrard Physiotherapy have multiple levels of training and education over and above their original degrees. In addition, everyone leads active lifestyles. This is essential to understanding the impact that an injury can have on your lifestyle. We believe physiotherapy carried out by a qualified team is the path to freedom of movement and mobility & we believe freedom of movement is essential to quality of life.

Our reception area boasts a coffee and tea service and comfortable seating in a cozy setting filled with local art. Any of our three receptionists will be happy to settle you in to your treatment routine while you are here with us.