What is Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS)?
Intramuscular stimulation is an effective treatment for pain of neuropathic origin. IMS is based on neurophysiological and anatomical principles; IMS uses needles to diagnose and treat muscle shortening which may be causing pain. Needles are used to penetrate both the skin and muscle tissue. This may be accompanied by a sensation of muscle cramping, followed by relaxation of the muscle(s).
Neuropathy: a disorder affecting the nerve(s)
Neuropathic pain often shows no sign of tissue damage or inflammation. However nerves and nerve-endings may become extremely sensitive and may cause what can be harmless stimuli to be interpreted as painful.
The Effects of IMS:
The goal of IMS is to release tight bands of shortened muscle(s) which may be causing compression and irritation of nerves. IMS aims to reduce/alleviate pain by decreasing the “sensitivity” of the nerves. Treatments are often once per week. The number of treatments required varies depending on age, general health of the individual, and the extent and duration of the injury. The average number of treatments is 6-8, but only 1-2 treatments may be necessary if the patient’s pain is of recent onset.
Muscle shortening/spasm is a common manifestation in neuropathy. This causes pain by pulling on tendons and ligaments which can put abnormal stress on these tissues and the joints they support. This can lead to tendonopathy and osteoarthtis due to abnormal wear and tear of joints. A notable example is degeneration of the spine (i.e. spondylosis). The boney changes found in spondylosis, can irritate the nerve roots as they exit the spine and this can then lead to greater nerve irritation and muscle shortening.
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