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Intra-Muscular Stimulation – IMS in Calgary

Northgate Physiotherapy, Chiropractic & Massage Therapy Centre provides multiple treatment options including intramuscular stimulation.

IMS is an effective treatment for acute and chronic pain of neuropathic origin. It is based on scientific neurophysiological principles. IMS involves the insertion of fine acupuncture needles into the body where muscles have shortened or contracted. It is problems at these points that are often at the root of long-term pain. While a muscle is tight and contracted, it can’t heal properly – with IMS you are stimulating a healing process and helping the muscles to relax.

IMS treatment is best suited to treat soft tissue pain that shows no obvious sign of ongoing tissue damage or inflammation, such as many forms of neck/back pain, tennis elbow, frozen shoulder and fibromyalgia, amongst others. It is often effective when other forms of therapy have failed.

Neuropathy – What Happens When Nerves Start to go Wrong?

Many people are perplexed by pain that shows no sign of tissue damage or inflammation. This type of pain, known as neuropathic pain, typically occurs when nerves malfunction following minor irritation. Nerves and nerve endings become extremely sensitive and cause innocent, harmless signals to be exaggerated and misinterpreted as painful ones. The result is pain even when extensive medical tests show there is “nothing wrong.”

How Does IMS work?

IMS is able to treat this neuropathic pain by desensitizing affected nerves and muscles using acupuncture needles. It is important to note that there is no use of electricity with IMS; rather it is the mechanical stimulation of the insertion of the needle into the affected muscles that provides the therapeutic effect. The needle activates a reflex causing the muscle to release and in doing so, eases the pain. Inserting the needle also creates a minor therapeutic injury to the area, stimulating the body to increase local circulation and activate its healing systems.

The technique is particularly effective for deep muscles that can be difficult or impossible to reach with other forms of treatment. For example, there are some muscles around the spine and pelvis that are too deep to be treated with massage and can only be addressed with a needle.

What is the Goal of IMS?

IMS directly treats the cause of the pain by relaxing the shortened muscle and allowing it to return to its normal state. The goal of treatment is to release muscle shortening which presses on and irritates the nerve. Supersensitive areas can be desensitized and the persistent pull of shortened muscles released, thereby restoring motion and function.

The Effects of IMS

The effects of IMS are cumulative – each needling session stimulates a certain amount of healing until eventually the condition can more fully recover and pain dissipates as muscles loosen. It is often successful in breaking the chronic cycle of pain because it permits accurate diagnosis of muscle shortening in deep muscles. It provides lasting relief and has few side effects.

Conditions that can be Treated Using IMS

A broad range of musculoskeletal problems are now successfully treated using the relatively new technique of Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS). We can treat a variety of ailments using IMS including:

  • Achilles tendonitis
  • Acute sports injuries
  • Arthritic conditions
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Chronic tendonitis or bursitis
  • Chronic “whiplash” pain
  • Chronic pain
  • Golfers elbow
  • Headaches
  • Iliotibial band syndrome
  • Jaw and TMJ pain
  • Low back pain
  • Myofascial pain syndrome
  • Myofascial trigger points
  • Neck pain
  • Patello-femoral syndrome
  • Piriformis syndrome
  • Plantar fascitis
  • Recurrent or persistent injuries (including sports injuries)
  • Repetitive strain injuries
  • Sciatica
  • Shin splints
  • Shoulder injuries (including frozen shoulder)
  • Spinal disc problems
  • Tennis elbow
  • Torticollis
  • Trigger finger

Does It Hurt?

As an alternative therapy, our IMS in NE Calgary has countless benefits. However, many are daunted by the idea that it hurts. IMS aims to encourage muscle relaxation. To do so, we insert tiny needles into your muscles. This process does cause some discomfort before the muscles relax, but no severe pain. The duration of the treatment is minimal, with the needles only being inserted and causing discomfort for a little while. Most clients experience muscle relaxation immediately after the treatment or in a few days.


What Are the Side Effects of IMS Treatment?

As opposed to invasive clinical treatments, IMS therapy has minimal side effects. The only significant side effect is that clients might have soreness in the area that was treated. Usually, this soreness goes away in 24 hours, with a marked improvement in mobility.


While IMS treatment is suitable for chronic musculoskeletal pain, it does not work for clients with chronic inflammatory pain.

Call us today and book your appointment for treatment.


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