Physical therapy has made substantial advancements over the years. One treatment that has been gaining a lot in popularity is intramuscular stimulation therapy or IMS. Similar to traditional Chinese acupuncture, intramuscular stimulation therapy has had amazing results for a variety of conditions.
But what exactly is IMS? How is it different from acupuncture, and can it help you? Read on for answers to these and other IMS treatment FAQs.
IMS is a version of dry needling, in which a trained physiotherapist inserts acupuncture needles into tight muscle bands or ‘trigger points. The needles used are similar to those used for traditional Chinese acupuncture. However, in acupuncture, the needle is inserted into a specific point and left for up to 30 minutes. IMS treatment involves inserting the needle directly into the muscle and quickly removing it. Sometimes, the physiotherapist may leave the needle for a moment or two to properly stimulate the muscle.
The objective is to stimulate the muscle and cause it to overextend which then triggers the ligament to release the muscle where it has been ‘triggered’. The desired outcome is to reduce pain and improve mobility.
Intramuscular stimulation therapy can be an effective treatment for anyone suffering from musculoskeletal or neuropathic pain. IMS treatment has proven to be effective against several problems, including:
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It’s common for the source of muscle pain to be from a muscle overworking or overcompensating for damage or injury elsewhere. The muscle often ends up in a position it’s not naturally meant to. The purpose of stimulating the ligament is for it to relax the tight muscle at the source thus resulting in improving mobility and reducing pain.
IMS treatment can speed up the healing process after a muscle injury, but it can do much more. IMS treatment can:
IMS causes the muscle to twitch as it relaxes. The patient may feel a sharp pricking as the needle is inserted into the muscle, followed by a deep ache and the muscle unwinds. General mild stiffness and soreness may be experienced the following day, but at no point should intramuscular stimulation therapy cause any significant, new, or worsening pain. Staying active is a good way to reduce the stiffness that follows.
Many patients report feeling better after as little as one treatment. However, most injuries will require at least 4 and up to 10 sessions to fully heal. Following a diligent, doctor-approved stretching and mobility routine between sessions can speed up the healing process.
One to two weeks between sessions is the standard procedure. It is not recommended to have IMS therapy more often than once per week.
Intramuscular stimulation therapy is not covered under MSP but may be covered under your extended health care coverage plan, WBC or ICBC.
Nordel Physio Clinic is one of Delta’s most trusted physical therapy professionals. If you think that intramuscular stimulation therapy can benefit you, click here to visit their website for answers to all of your IMS treatment FAQs.