Pain associated with injuries is usually quite predictable and is easily explained scientifically. At the time of injury, there is a message carried in our pain nerves to our brain indicating tissue damage – this pain is called nociception. Shortly afterwards, inflammation develops which causes swelling, warmth, and pain. Following that, is the healing phase which generally lasts up to 8 weeks depending on the severity of injury. But what if the pain continues beyond this time – with no evidence of ongoing inflammation? Or what if the pain comes on gradually with no real injury? What is going on in our bodies that causes that kind of pain?
In the 1970’s, Dr. Chann Gunn worked as a doctor in BC for the Worker’s Compensation board. He investigated the large number of clients who had mysteriously stubborn, ongoing pain. He began developing a treatment utilizing acupuncture needles to target shortened, painful muscles and obtained great results! He reviewed the literature and began further research which continues today at UBC!
So what do tendinitis, bursitis, sciatica, chronic neck pain, patellofemoral syndrome, plantar fasciitis, recurrent sports injuries, repetitive strain injuries, shin splints, disc degeneration, and TMJ pain all have in common? They all include ropey, painful bands in the muscles around the area. These clients have often searched out many different treatment options to release these tight muscles. It is with these “stubborn” tight muscles that you must question – why have they become tight and why is it difficult to obtain long term results after various treatments?
Let’s take a step back….
Our muscles are supplied by nerves which come from our spine. Because the spine is often an area of wear and tear, the nerves can become irritated. This is called neuropathy. Muscles that are not receiving proper input from the nerve develop super sensitivity and as a result, shorten and develop taut bands. These bands become painful, pull on the tendons to which they are attached, increase pressure in the bursa, compress the spinal discs and other joints causing inflammation to form in these tissues.
IMS treatment; therefore, targets not only the tight muscles themselves, but also the tight muscles at the spine – the source of the neuropathy. This can be very effective for deep muscles that can be difficult or impossible to reach with other treatment. Insertion of the needle into the muscle causes reflex relaxation, desensitizes the muscles and nerves, and stimulates healing to begin.
Chronic pain can be frustrating and exhausting!! But IMS provides a treatment alternative that often provides lasting relief.
Information cited from:
The Gunn Approach to the Treatment of Chronic Pain- Intramuscular Stimulation for Myofascial Pain of Radiculopathic Origin; Dr. Chan Gunn 1996
Gunn IMS courses; UBC; 2016