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What is IMS & Is It Right For Me

What is IMS & Is It Right For Me

IMS - or intramuscular stimulation - is a form of 'dry needling' treatment where a physiotherapist places small, sterile acupuncture needles into the muscles of a patient in order to release tension, alleviate strains and help injury recovery. Here our Nepean physical therapists explain when IMS may be right for you.

When muscles become injured, they can tense up, become seized and reduce your mobility and range of motion in the aftermath. 

Our Nepean physiotherapists refer to the places where your muscles are holding tension as "trigger points." We are able to help release tension held in these trigger points using needling techniques such as IMS (intramuscular stimulation).

What is a trigger point?

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 experiencing pain that conventional physical therapies aren't addressing?

We can help develop a treatment and exercise plan to help you recover.

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Welcome to the Nepean Sports Medicine & Physiotherapy Centre blog, where we provide lots of helpful tips, news, information and advice about physiotherapy and massage treatments, as well as general health and wellness, in Nepean and Ottawa.

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(613) 727-5755