Blog Archives

IMS Dry Needling: an expanded explanation of how & why

IMS dry needling is an increasingly popular form of treatment used by physiotherapists in Vancouver, Canada due primarily to the strong influence of local retired physician Dr Chan Gunn. He studied and refined the use of acupuncture needles specifically for treating persistent pain and ran a training and research center in Vancouver over the past thirty years. He engaged physiotherapists that had experience with manual therapy and taught them how to feel and treat inside the muscles instead of just pushing and prodding from the outside. It was a new modality that strayed from traditional acupuncture and pushed physiotherapy outside of its’ customary box. More physiotherapists in Vancouver adopted the new technique than elsewhere due to the local availability of training and the allowance of our regulatory body in British Columbia that permitted physios to puncture the skin.

Early adopters of IMS learned from Dr Gunn in the ‘90s, but relatively more and more have adopted dry needling as a staple of physiotherapy practice in the past ten years. I learned from Dr Gunn in 2008, after being exposed to the technique at Diane Lee’s physiotherapy clinic in 2006. In hindsight I am glad that I had some exposure to the dry needling technique in the hands of physios before I learned it directly from Dr Gunn because it helped me put the model that Dr Gunn was teaching in perspective. His model of intramuscular stimulation (IMS) is very valuable and the underlying principle that I apply when needling, but it is too simplistic and limited in its explanation and application. I wrote this article a few years after taking the IMS course to help explain to clients what I was doing and how IMS was different than acupuncture. If you want a history lesson about acupuncture and to see how many people have different views about needling, please scroll through all the comments at the end of that article. Read More

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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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Elbow Pain: Why it can last so long & how to fix it properly

In-Line Chiropractic Cypress, TX (281) 894-5020

Tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow are the typical names given to elbow pain; tennis being pain on the outside of the elbow and golf being pain on the inside of the elbow.  The more technical term is lateral epicondylitis which simply indicates tendonitis in a specific location.  Putting a name to elbow pain doesn’t really help you get rid of it, but understanding why it happens and where it comes from will.
Tendons are the tough bit of tissue that attaches muscle to bones, and tendonitis literally means inflammation of the tendon.  This term can be misleading when it comes to elbow pain because many people have pain that persists for months in the complete absence of swelling and inflammation.  That is because elbow pain is not just an overuse injury.  It happens when the muscles being used are in an irritable state due to a nerve irritation stemming from your neck and shoulder.  Nerves are the electrical wiring of muscles and when they are irritated, it doesn’t take much to overuse the muscles and tendons that they innervate, resulting in inflammation and pain.  If you rest the joint, the body will heal the inflammation, but the nerve irritation may persist and thus the inflammation and pain will return as soon as you attempt to use your arm again.

Radial nerve extends from base of neck, through shoulder, down to elbow

Muscles are comprised of a whole bunch of stringy tissue that can stretch and contract.  The muscle should have a certain amount of resting tone in it, i.e. at rest it is slightly contracted, not flaccid or extremely tense; this is dictated by the input of the nerve.  If the nerve is irritated as it extends from the spine, or anywhere in the periphery it will result in an altered signal getting to the muscle.  Read More

Posted in Blog, Elbow, Pain 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: , , , , , , ,
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