Blog Archives

Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS): Your case studies & testimonials

The University of British Columbia has recently taken over Dr. Chan Gunn’s body of work researching the effects of Intramuscular Stimulation or IMS.  As a clinician that has been using it since 2008, I have no doubt of its efficacy, but the medical community has been slow to acknowledge it because of studies showing that acupuncture yields no benefit.  I find it unfortunate that the two forms of treatment get lumped together because they are fundamentally different treatment modalities.
 
I am not a researcher, but I am confident the research will eventually catch up to the clinical practice regarding IMS.  What I can help with, is to help gather case studies of peoples’ experience with IMS and give patients some information to go to their doctor with to help educate the medical community.

If you have had IMS as a treatment by your physiotherapist and care to share your experience (positive or negative) please share your story in the comments below in the following format:

A brief history of you and your pain:
e.g. I am a 46 year old runner with a 6 month history of knee pain when I run…

A brief history of what you may have tried prior to IMS:
e.g. “normal physio” with electrical machines, chiropractor, massage therapy, acupuncture, ice, heat

Who you saw for IMS and what your doctor’s thoughts were (if applicable):
Feel free to give your physio a plug or simply share how you heard about it

Your experience with IMS (short term and long term)
You may have found it uncomfortable, but felt looser afterward.  Totally open ended….tell us what happened for better or worse.

Click here to read my article explaining how IMS works and how it is different than acupuncture

Please leave your case study and/or testimonials below.  I will be providing a variety of interesting case studies involving IMS in the coming months.

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Posted in Blog, Case Studies, Healthcare Tagged with: , , , , ,
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Pain & Function: What doctors don’t understand & what people don’t understand about doctors

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I have an immense respect for doctors and their knowledge base.  They go through rigorous training in medical school to learn how the body works, how to fix it when it is broken and how to keep it alive when it is dying.  On a daily basis doctors help their patients with a wide variety of medical issues from diabetes to cancer and from pregnancy to Parkinson’s.  We need them in our lives because our society just cannot function properly without them.  That being said, I would like to share my experience and stories in dealing with doctors from the perspective of a physiotherapist that has:

  • 10 years’ experience working with injured clients (including many doctors) that have battled through public and private medical systems, specialists, tests, etc
  • 5 years’ experience working as a physiotherapist within a large family practice doctors’ office in a building with the UBC Medical School and every different medical specialty available in British Columbia
  • 2 opportunities to help teach 4th year UBC medical students how to do proper back assessments
  • A personal history of numerous injuries, trips to the doctor and hospital

The purpose of this post is not to make doctors look bad, it is to help the general public understand what they should and should not expect from their doctors and the medical system as a whole.  Doctors are very smart people, but they don’t know everything, and most of the time they work in a model that doesn’t allow them to help you in a thorough or timely manner; we should not be mad at doctors for this, we should just adjust our expectations and understand that a doctor might not always be the one with the best advice or treatment for your ailment.

When something hurts and doesn’t go away after a couple of days or weeks most people will search the internet for their symptoms and then likely visit their doctor to try and figure out what is going on.  Read More

Posted in Blog, Healthcare Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,
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How do we heal medicine? By learning from other industries

This video is a TED talk by Atul Gawande, an American Surgeon and author of The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Rightstyle=border:none.  He discusses the challenges of today’s medical system from both financial and practical stand points.  He pushes the idea of pulling specialists back from their loan cowboy position atop an expensive and ineffective medical system and preaches the idea of teamwork, systems and efficiency.  He is an engaging speaker in a 20 minute video that is worth your time.

Click here to read my article on Building a Model of Preventative Healthcare

 

Click below to read about his book
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Posted in Blog, Healthcare Tagged with: , , ,
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Creating & Managing Your Own Health Record: A Crucial Ingredient to Preventative Health

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When was the last time you went to your doctor?  Your dentist?  Your physio?

Why did you go?  What was wrong with you?

What did your health professional tell you?

What did you learn from the experience?  Anything?  Do you remember?

Your body is a complex structure with all sorts of things happening in it that you likely don’t understand.  It is easy to leave the care of your body to others that ‘know what they are talking about’ and just do as you are told, but it is a dangerous habit to fall into.  Too much dependence on busy healthcare practitioners can result in you getting lost in the shuffle of a strained medical system.  Your doctor or physio may be a very compassionate and diligent professional with your best interests at heart, but you have to remember that he/she likely sees ten to twenty other people every day too and it is easy for things to fall through the cracks.

The best way to make sure you are taken care of is to become the leader of your own healthcare team and try to learn something about your body with every interaction with your doctor, physio, trainer, etc., and then keep track of your health related experiences over the years.  Write down every time you have an injury or pain.  Write down every time you see your doctor and what you learned from the appointment.  Write down the advice your naturopath gave you so you can refer to it again in the future.

You should create your own health record, in your own words of what you understand to be wrong with you and what you might be able to do to get better and prevent the problem from surfacing again.  Your health is a product of everything you have done up to this point and it is a very helpful tool if you have a record of the past that has helped you learn along the way. 

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Posted in Blog, Healthcare Tagged with: , , ,
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Physiotherapists vs. Chiropractors: which one should you choose?

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I get asked at least twice a week what I think about chiropractors.  Some people have this belief that there is an ongoing rivalry between the two professions, but it is just not true.  There is room in the allied health field for practitioners with different approaches; in fact we are all better off for it.   As a physiotherapist, I am obviously biased, but I think for some people, chiropractic treatment may be the best thing for them and for others it may be the worst thing they could do for their pain and that is where the big difference between the two professions is the most evident to me.

Physiotherapy has a much broader scope of practice than chiropractic treatment does.  A well trained physiotherapist should have the ability to manipulate the spine, perform muscle release techniques, use acupuncture or IMS needling treatments, teach core stability exercises, help work on your posture and balance or build a sport specific training program for you.  Most chiropractors focus purely on joint manipulation with a smaller percentage also using muscle release techniques like Active Release (A.R.T.) or Trigenics.  Chiropractors may be the best at using manipulation as a treatment technique by virtue of pure experience and practice, but I would prefer a clinician that has the ability to manipulate me (if need be), needle me (if need be), use myofascial release (if need be) and spend the time with me to help me prevent the problem from arising again.  A good physiotherapist should be able to do everything a good chiropractor can do and more.

The problem is that not every physiotherapist is well trained and just like any profession there are ‘good’ ones and ‘bad’ ones.  The same holds true for chiropractors.  Some physiotherapists will bring their clients in hook them up to three different machines over the course of an hour and barely pay any attention to them. 

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Posted in Blog, Healthcare Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,
63 Comments ↓

Principles to follow when your back is sore

 

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Acute (Days 1-7)

  • Ask yourself “what have I done and do I need someone else’s help?”
  • If you have had an accident or acute injury, it is best to seek help
  • If you are concerned you may have broke something or need some medication to deal with intense pain: SEE YOUR DOCTOR
  • If it is not an emergency, but you need help with pain, function and mobility: SEE YOUR PHYSIOTHERAPIST FIRST, not your doctor
  • If you determine you don’t need help just yet, but your back is acutely sore:
  • Lie down on your back on a firm surface and ice your back for 15 minutes at a time every hour you are able to for the first 3 days
  • Start doing gentle pelvic rock movements to help your back from seizing up
  • Start doing gentle hip stretches on your back and pelvic rock movements on your hands and knees
  • Avoid soft couches and beds for the first week
  • Once the intensity of the pain has subsided start using heat and ice for days 3-5
  • Shift to just heat when you feel your problem is more stiffness than acute pain
  • Visit a physiotherapist if the pain has persisted more than a week

Sub- Acute (Days 8-90)

  • Ask yourself “why did this happen and what am I doing to make it worse?”
  • Seek to understand the root cause of your problem by referring to the Why Backs Hurt and discussing what you’ve learned with your physiotherapist
  • Consider how repeated daily tasks like sitting, standing, breathing, walking and lifting may be contributing factors
  • Consider what type of treatment is most appropriate for you:
  • Massage Therapy, Osteopathy, Visceral Release, Craniosacral
  • Chiropractic, Active Release Technique, Spinal Decompression
  • Pilates, Yoga, Basic Fitness, Strength & Conditioning
  • Start to create more body awareness about how you may have been compensating for the pain you have been experiencing for the past week to month
  • Look at your posture and alignment in a mirror
  • Pay attention to how you are breathing
  • Try to note your pain patterns (i.e.
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Posted in Blog, Healthcare, Low Backs, Mid Backs Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,
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What is IMS Acupuncture? Intramuscular Stimulation vs. Traditional Acupuncture

IMS stands for intramuscular stimulation and is an anatomy specific form of acupuncture performed by specially trained physiotherapists and some doctors.  It has its roots in traditional Chinese acupuncture, but is fundamentally different in many ways.  IMS uses Western medicine’s understanding of the neurophysiology of pain and Dr Chan Gunn’s assessment techniques of identifying underlying nerve irritations to treat chronic pain issues.  The technique does use acupuncture needles, but not in the way someone practicing traditional acupuncture would.  Traditional acupuncture focuses on pre-mapped out points in the body that relate to different organs and meridians of energy running through the body.  Fine acupuncture needles are then inserted into a number of these points and the person rests with them in for 10-20 minutes.  It can be very useful for the right condition, but it is not as specific or as purposeful as IMS.

To understand why IMS is performed the way it is you should have a basic understanding of how your body experiences pain.  If you haven’t already, please read the article titled Why Things Hurt: Explain Pain.

When a physiotherapist performs IMS he will first assess your basic posture and movement patterns to look for some common signs of underlying nerve irritation.  The most common one is to palpate for tender bands or knots in particular muscle groups.  He will look for restriction of movement in major joints such as your hips and shoulders and note the appearance of the skin and muscle tissue on either side of your spine.  When there is an underlying nerve irritation in an area, the skin can start to look like the rind of an orange peel, feel thickened and respond differently to light touch.  A person may develop goose bumps easily and/or have areas of coolness or hair loss.  The therapist will take all these things into account when determining where to treat you. Read More

Posted in Blog, Elbow, Healthcare, Low Backs, Necks, Pain, Shoulders Tagged with: , , , , , , ,
78 Comments ↓

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