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What is IMS & Is It Right for Me?

IMS (intramuscular stimulation) is a form of 'dry needling' treatment. Small, sterile acupuncture needles are placed in the muscles of a patient to release tension, alleviate strains and aid injury recovery. Here, our Manotick physical therapists explain when IMS may be right for you. 

Muscles can tense up and seize when they become injured. In the aftermath, your mobility and range of motion may be reduced. 

Our Manotick physiotherapists call the places where your muscles hold tension "trigger points". Using needling techniques such as IMS (intramuscular stimulation), we are able to help release tension held in these trigger points. 

Myofascial trigger points are very sensitive areas in the tightened bands of muscles or in a muscle's fascia layer. If any pressure is applied to a trigger point, it will often be quite painful and this pain may radiate into other areas of the body. 

This muscular tightness and spasm will cause compression and irritation of the nerves exiting the spine, which, when irritated, cause a protective spasm of all the muscles to which they are connected. In athletes, trigger points can lead to a significant performance decrease. A common trigger point that causes headaches is found in the Upper Trapezius muscle.

How does IMS work?

IMS treatment involves the placement of acupuncture needles - small and sterile needles - into specific trigger points in your muscles to help release tension, avoid future injury, and speed your recover from whatever injury caused your trigger points to hold tension in the first place. 

When receiving IMS treatment from a physiotherapist, patients will generally feel a deep aching (like a cramp) or a twitching sensation in the tighten band of muscle tissue being treated. Once your physical therapist has determined that they have sufficiently stimulated your injured muscles, they will remove the needle a move on to the next trigger point.

How long does it take to recover from IMS?

While it isn't necessarily true to say that IMS is something that requires "recovery," many patients report that they feel lethargy, weakness and a continuous ache in the muscles that they had treated with IMS for up to 36 hours after their treatment.

During this time, your muscles will be responding to treatment, relaxing and recovering. 

It's important to take some steps to help with this relaxing and recovery process after IMS treatment. Some of the things we will often advise our patients to do after receiving include staying active (in moderation), applying heat packs to the aching and affected muscles, and hydrating well.

When is IMS treatment right for me?

Intramuscular stimulation treatment is often recommended for the following health issues:

  • Neuropathic pain
  • Injuries like tennis elbow or plantar fasciitis
  • Persistent or chronic pain
  • If treatments such as manual therapy aren't effective in alleviating pain
  • If active physiotherapy worsens your pain

Are you suffering from pain that conventional physical therapies aren't addressing?   

Our team of physiotherapists in Manotick can help you build strategies to manage it.

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Ready to get started on the path to better mobility?

(613) 692-1847