What is Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS)?

Intramuscular Stimulation, commonly referred to as IMS, is an effective treatment for chronic pain of a neuropathic origin. The treatment methodology was originally developed by Dr. Chan Gunn, who had been on staff as a physician for the Worker’s Compensation Board of BC, during the 1970’s. Dr. Gunn founded the Institute for the Study and Treatment of Pain (ISTOP) and had served as a clinical professor at the University of Washington’s Multi Disciplinary Pain Centre in Seattle. Dr. Gunn has received wide acclaim and recognition for his contributions towards solving chronic pain, such as “The Order of British Columbia,” and most notably “The Order of Canada,” the nation’s highest and most prestigious honour. Dr. Gunn has also been elected Honorary Fellow of Peterhouse Cambridge University.

Arm SmallerThe practice of IMS, while very effective, has few side-effects; the technique is also unmatched for finding and diagnosing muscle shortening in deep muscle tissue. The practice itself is based on anatomical and neurophysiological principles. The needles that are used in IMS, are significantly thinner than hollow needles typically used to inject medicines or draw blood. You may not even feel its penetration, and with normal muscle tissue, the needle is painless. However, if your muscle is supersensitive and shortened, you’ll feel a peculiar sensation, some describe as similar to a cramping muscle. This is a distinctive type of discomfort caused by the muscle grasping the needle, and 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 feeling of relief and relaxation. The needle may still be in you, but because the muscle is no longer tight, you no longer feel it. What has happened is that the needle has caused your abnormal muscle shortening to intensify and then release. It is important that you experience this sensation in order to gain lasting relief.

IMS Treatment

The following will be assessed by your physiotherapist at the time of appointment:

  • Medical examination is imperative
  • Medical diagnosis is necessary
  • Needle insertions indicated by physical signs
  • Knowledge of anatomy is essential
  • Prompt subjective and objective effects are usually experienced.