Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS)


Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS) is an effective treatment for chronic pain of a neuropathic origin. Neuropathic pain occurs when nerves malfunction following injury or tissue irritation. Nerve endings become overly sensitive and begin to interpret normal sensations as painful. The term for this is ‘hypersensitivity’. When nerves become hypersensitive, local muscles respond by contracting (shortening), and normal blood circulation to the area is reduced. This muscle shortening places pressure on the nerves and can cause compression of the joints crossed by the affected muscles. The result is pain and muscle tension.

IMS is commonly used in the treatment of neck and back pain and various other musculo-skeletal problems such as tendonitis, thoracic outlet syndrome, achilles tendonosis, plantar fasciitis and many other muscular conditions. The treatment involves the insertion of fine needles into the contracted muscles, resulting in a ‘release’ of the shortened muscles. This allows the restoration of normal muscle length, reduction of nerve hypersensitivity and return of normal blood circulation.
IMS differs from acupuncture in that the needles are inserted into muscles which are in an abnormal state of contraction. Acupuncture needles are inserted in specific areas of the body (according to the principles of Chinese meridians), and are intended to have an effect in areas other than where they are inserted.
Practitioners using IMS must have completed formal training through the Institute for the Study and Treatment of Pain (i STOP) and must be registered physiotherapists or physicians.