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Making Pain Right when Nerves Go Wrong

| April 29, 2011 | 2 Replies
Physical Therapist treating chronic back pain with IMS therapy

Physical Therapist treating chronic back pain with IMS therapy

IMS Physical Therapy for Chronic Back Pain

Many people can be frustrated by back pain that shows no sign of tissue damage or inflammation. This type of pain, known as neuropathic pain, typically occurs when nerves malfunction following minor irritation. Nerves and nerve endings become extremely sensitive and cause innocent, harmless signals to be exaggerated and misinterpreted by the body as painful ones. The result is pain even when extensive medical tests show there is “nothing wrong”. IMS certified Physical therapists know that even though the tests don’t pick it up, there is indeed something wrong.

Chronic neuropathic pain sufferers can become even more frustrated & depressed when conventional treatments such as medication, massage, manipulation, exercise, and even surgery do not provide lasting or significant relief. Doctors and other health practitioners seldom have a problem treating pain resulting from obvious injury. However, it is pain that does not present with any obvious tissue damage that can often be a problem. If you have this type of pain, your pain could be neuropathic pain. And the IMS certified physiotherapists at Capilano Rehab Centre can help.

Intramuscular Stimulation is an innovative and effective physical treatment for chronic pain of neuropathic origin. IMS is a similar technique to acupuncture and uses filament needles to assess and treat tight muscle bands.

What is Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS)?

IMS is an innovative and effective physiotherapy treatment for chronic pain of neuropathic origin. This scientifically and clinically proven technique is unequaled for finding & diagnosing muscle shortening in deep muscles. IMS was largely developed by Dr. Chan Gunn who is a clinical physician and professor at the University of Washington’s Pain Center in Seattle. Dr. Gunn has been awarded the Order of British Columbia as well as the Order of Canada for his contributions towards resolving chronic pain. At Capilano Rehab Centre physiotherapy clinic in Edmonton, we are proud to offer IMS treatment to help our clients return to pain-free living.

IMS physiotherapy treatment is effective and has few side-effects; the technique is also unequaled for finding and diagnosing muscle shortening in deep muscle.

The Shortened Muscle Syndrome

An important factor in understanding neuropathic pain is muscle shortening. This produces pain by pulling on tendons, straining them as well as distressing the joints they move. This can also occur with spinal pain, secondary to “spondylosis”, which is a common. degeneration of the spine. Spondylosis irritates nerves and can lead to neuropathy and muscle shortening.

The goal of IMS Physiotherapy

IMS directly treats the cause of the pain by relaxing the shortened muscle and allowing it to return to its normal state. The goal of treatment is to release muscle shortening which presses on and irritates the nerve. Supersensitive areas can be desensitized and the persistent pull of shortened muscles released, thereby restoring motion and function.

The Effects of IMS Physiotherapy

The effects of IMS are cumulative-each needling session stimulates a certain amount of healing, until eventually the condition can more fully recover and pain dissipates as muscles loosen. It is often successful in breaking the chronic cycle of pain because it permits accurate diagnosis of muscle shortening in deep muscles. It provides lasting relief and has few side effects.

Conditions that can be treated using IMS Physiotherapy

Capilano Rehab Centre physiotherapists have treated a broad range of musculoskeletal problems using the relatively new technique of Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS). We can treat a variety of neuropathic pain ailments using IMS including:

  • Nagging Sports Injuries
  • Arthritic Conditions
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Chronic Tendonitis or Bursitis
  • Chronic “Whiplash” Pain
  • Headaches
  • Iliotibial Band Syndrome
  • Low Back Pain
  • Myofascial Pain Syndrome
  • Neck Pain
  • Patello-femoral Syndrome
  • Recurrent or Persistent Injuries
  • Repetitive Strain Injuries
  • Sciatica
  • Shin Splints
  • Shoulder Injuries (including Frozen Shoulder)

Frequency of IMS Physiotherapy Treatment

Your IMS certified physical therapist will usually want to see you once a week to allow time between treatments for your body to heal itself. The actual number of treatments that you require will vary depending on factors such as the extent of your condition, the amount of scar tissue present (usually increased after previous surgery), and how quickly your body heals. The rate of healing depends on the condition of your nerves and the amount of previous nerve irritation. If your pain is of recent origin, one or two treatments is possibly all you may need. In published studies of patients with low back pain, the average number of IMS treatments required was 8.2.

Cost of IMS Physiotherapy

IMS physiotherapy treatments are not covered by Alberta Health or the Capital Health Authority. You may be eligible to be reimbursed by your private insurance plan. Please speak to our administrative staff and they will assist you in your investigation of funding sources and provide you with treatment cost estimates.

How to Access IMS Treatment

If you think you have a condition that may benefit from IMS, simply call us at Capilano Rehab Centre physiotherapy clinic in Edmonton to make an appointment with one of our Gunn IMS qualified Physiotherapists. They will assess you and will offer you advice on the best approach to treating your condition, and can answer any further questions that you may have. Physiotherapists at our clinic who utilize IMS have been certified by the Institute for the Study and Treatment of Pain, founded by the developer of the IMS technique, Dr. Chan Gunn M.D.


Capilano Rehab Centre | Physical Therapy
Capilano Rehab Clinic physical therapists have provided state-of-the-art physical therapy, sports physiotherapy, back pain, WCB, accident, whiplash and injury rehab to clients in Edmonton for over 10 years.

5832 Terrace Rd
Edmonton, AB. T6A 3Y8

(780) 466-1104

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Category: Back Pain, Chronic Pain, Elbow Pain, Neck Pain, physical therapy, Shoulder Pain

About the Author ()

Capilano Rehab Centre is a physical therapy sports medicine, injury and rehabilitation facility located in Edmonton, Alberta. Our physical therapists offer personalized hands-on pain relief solutions combined with state-of-the-art, progressive, physiotherapy treatment techniques. For modern treatments and old-fashioned care, you can count on Capilano!

Comments (2)

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  1. Samuel H Daniel says:

    I am suffering from nerve pain and loss of full function in my left leg after a surgery3 yrs ago. I am wondering if IMS therapy is offered outside of Alberta( I am based in Ottawa) and what are the costs involoved.

    Best Regards


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