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What is IMS & how does it work for chronic muscle tension?

Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS) is a highly effective treatment method used to relieve chronic muscle tension and alleviate associated pain. This technique involves the insertion of solid filament needles (such as acupuncture needles) into specific areas of muscle tissue, targeting trigger points and dysfunctional muscles. IMS borrows principles from traditional acupuncture but differs in its focus on the treatment of deep, chronic muscle pain rather than targeting energy pathways or meridians.


The primary goal of IMS is to normalize and restore muscle function by stimulating the healing process within the affected tissues. Chronic muscle tension often occurs due to muscle shortening, contraction, or the presence of trigger points. These conditions can restrict blood flow, create muscular imbalances, and generate pain. By inserting needles into the affected areas, IMS aims to release these tight or knotted muscles, allowing them to relax and regain their normal length.


Marina Bunjevac Physiotherapist at Leduc Physio performing IMS treatment on forearm

During an IMS treatment session, a trained practitioner will carefully palpate the patient's muscles to identify areas of tension and trigger points. Once identified, the practitioner will insert fine, single-use needles into these areas. The insertion of the needle may produce a deep ache or twitch sensation, indicating that the needle has reached the target tissue properly. These sensations are normal and are signs that the treatment is actively stimulating the muscle tissue.


Inserting needles into specific areas of the muscle promotes a series of physiological responses. Firstly, the insertion stimulates blood flow, carrying fresh oxygen, and nutrients to the affected area, helping to encourage healing. Secondly, the needle triggers a reflexive response in the muscles, causing them to relax and lengthen. This relaxation helps alleviate the chronic muscle tension and breaks the cycle of pain often associated with it.


IMS treatment sessions usually last between 15 to 45 minutes, depending on the severity and complexity of the condition. The number of sessions required can vary depending on individual response and the nature of the muscle dysfunction. Generally, patients can expect a series of treatments over several weeks or months to achieve optimal results. Your health professional will inform you of your treatment plan and expectations following your initial assessment


If you suffer from chronic muscle tension or associated pain, consulting with a qualified IMS practitioner at Leduc Physio can be an essential step towards finding relief and restoring your muscular function.


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