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Calgary Physical Therapy, Acupuncture and Rehabilitation

Memorial East Physical Therapy Clinic

Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS) & Dry Needling

Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS) is a needle technique developed right here in Canada! IMS is the purest form of what is called ‘dry needling’, used to treat a certain type of neuropathic pain. All dry needling techniques use a very small acupuncture needle, and no medication or electricity.

Although a similar sterile single use needle is used, the theory and treatment approach are different than acupuncture. IMS is used to treat neuropathic pain which is caused by irritation or pressure on the nerves causing muscles to become shortened and hypersensitive. Many chronic pain conditions are caused by this neuropathic pain and can occur in the absence of inflammation or tissue damage. Since neuropathic pain can exist without ongoing inflammation or tissue damage, painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications may provide only temporary relief or have no effect at all. In addition, x-rays, CT’s, MRI’s and other diagnostic tests may not show any visible signs of injury.

IMS is used to target irritable muscles which have become shortened due to these neuropathic origin (taut muscle bands that have become contracted and shortened from injuries, degeneration or distress of the nerve). Therefore, rather than needling traditional ‘acupuncture points’, IMS needles are placed directly into the taut band of the affected muscles. it can be extremely effective in treating acute or chronic soft tissue pain (neuropathic pain) and muscle stiffness.

Dry Needling

Dry needling, also called “trigger point dry needling” is a form of therapy in which fine needles are inserted into myofascial trigger points (painful knots in the muscles), tendons, ligaments, or near nerves in order to stimulate a healing response in painful musculoskeletal conditions. Dry needling is not acupuncture or Oriental Medicine; that is, it does not have a purpose of altering the flow of energy (“Qi”) along traditional Chinese meridians for the treatment of diseases. In fact, dry needling is a modern, science-based intervention for the treatment of pain and dysfunction in musculoskeletal conditions such as neck pain, shoulder impingement, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, knee pain, shin splits, plantar facilitis, or lower back pain.

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