IMS is performed by specially-trained physiotherapists and physicians, who thoroughly examine and search for taut muscle bands or trigger points. Once these are found, a sterile acupuncture needle is then inserted into the tight muscle, causing a “twitch” of the muscle. This results in releasing the muscle and reducing the pulling effects of the tight muscles across joints, discs, nerves, and tendons.
Dr. Gunn, the developer of IMS, concluded that a muscle becomes shortened when a nerve does not supply a muscle with enough electrical impulse. The shortened muscle then puts further compression on the surrounding nerve(s), and a vicious cycle occurs keeping the muscle tight and the nerve supersensitive.
Muscles cross over joints and discs in the spine; when they are chronically tight, they limit joint mobility and promote degenerative conditions such as arthritis or degenerative disc disease. As well, tight muscles will constantly pull on tendons, resulting in conditions such as Achilles tendonitis or tennis elbow. Furthermore, tight muscles will put compression on nerves, resulting in conditions such as sciatica or carpal tunnel syndrome.
In IMS, when the needle is inserted into a tight muscle band or trigger point, there will be a characteristic “twitch” of the muscle. This essentially “jump-starts” the nerve and muscle function, resulting in a reflex relaxation. Most patients do not describe the sensation as pain, but as an unusual sensation with an overall feeling of “release”. The result is a relaxed muscle with less stress placed on joints, tendons, and nerves.
Patients will often feel immediate pain relief and increased movement after IMS. The effects of IMS can be longstanding and accumulative from treatment to treatment.
There are now IMS practitioners world-wide, helping many who have struggled for years with chronic pain conditions. All of our physiotherapists at Calgary Core Physiotherapy are certified IMS practitioners.