What is IMS Therapy and What Does It Treat?

What is IMS Therapy and What Does It Treat?

What is IMS?

Are you having trouble dealing with a chronic back problem? Sometimes, this chronic pain is the result of a muscle that has shortened and become sensitive. This leads to tension being put on your tendons. The end result is pain, stiffness
and reduced mobility in that part of your body.

IMS, or Intramuscular Stimulation, is a treatment that uses needles to help reduce your pain. It is also sometimes referred to as dry needling. During an IMS treatment, a small needle is inserted into a specific muscle that has shortened and is now causing pain. IMS can be an effective way to help treat chronic neuropathic or musculoskeletal pain.

How IMS works?

When a needle is inserted into your shortened muscle, this causes your muscle to relax and lengthen. This happens because the nerve that instructs your muscle on what to do is reset.

Once this reset happens, proper communication between that nerve and your shortened muscle is re-established and normalized. This helps to return that muscle to normal function and movement. As your muscle relaxes and lengthens, this also helps ease the pain that you feeling.

Normally, if a needle is inserted into a relaxed muscle, you barely notice it going in. However, with a shortened and sensitive muscle, during your IMS treatment you may feel a brief, deep ache or twitch when the needle is first inserted. This ache usually disappears shortly after the needle is inserted.

Acupuncture, dry needling, IMS. – 3 forms of needing courtesy of Cedar Chiropractic & Physiotherapy in Burnaby.

Benefits of IMS

IMS treatment can help you in a few different ways.

1) When the needle is inserted a tiny injury is created. As a result, blood is drawn to the shortened muscle. This improved circulation helps deliver nutrients and supplies to the area while also preventing the build up of toxins and waste.

2) IMS treatment stimulates the stretch receptor in a muscle. This helps your muscle relax and reduce pain, stiffness and spasm.

3) By easing muscle stress, IMS therapy helps reduce the tension put on your tendons.

IMS versus Acupuncture

Although both treatment approaches seem the same on the surface, there are differences between the two. Acupuncture is a treatment that is based on traditional Chinese medicine practices. With acupuncture, needles are inserted into points in your body along meridians that correspond to other different areas and organs throughout your body.

IMS has its roots in Western medicine. During your IMS session the same needles are often used. However, the location where these needles are inserted differs from acupuncture, as IMS will typically directly target the area that you are having pain. For example, right in the belly of your painful muscle.

What does IMS treat?

IMS can help you with a number of different pain problems. These can include
such things as:

– Achilles tendonitis
– Chronic low back pain
– Golfer’s elbow
– Headache
– Plantar fasciitis
– Sciatica
– Shin splints
– Shoulder injury
– Sports injuries
– Tennis elbow
– TMJ pain


This appointment is your opportunity to tell us what hurts and discover whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care is a good fit for you! During this session, you will talk with a physiotherapist or chiropractor on a phone call (or online) and create the right care plan specifically for your pain. There is no obligation on this session is to find out whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care can help you getting back to doing the things you love in life.

Frequently Asked Questions

IMS is based in Western medicine’s knowledge of anatomy and physiology. Acupuncture uses the same needles as IMS does, but is a technique based in traditional Chinese medicine and is thousands of years old. It involves inserting needles into specific acupuncture points to relieve pain.

Once your IMS session has finished, you might feel sore for 24-36 hours. This is normal and expected. As long as you keep moving, the achiness should completely resolve leaving you feeling loose and with reduced pain.

Intramuscular stimulation (IMS) is very effective at loosening tightened muscles and reducing pain after your first session. You should expect to see some improvement after the first session but generally 3-4 sessions are required to ensure that IMS is working, with most injuries resolving after 8-10 sessions approximately.

About John Sheu

Cedar Chiropractic Physiotherapy British Columbia Physiotherapy Sheu

While at McGill, he had his first contact with chiropractic, albeit indirectly. At the same time, back home, his father received care from a chiropractor. His father was suffering from a disabling back injury and thereupon his parents sent him some information about chiropractic. Suddenly, the possibility of being able to help people get their lives back through the use of his own hands, using natural methods, and being able to meet and connect with other people all came together. As a result, Dr Sheu realized that becoming a chiropractor was what he was meant to be. He studied at at the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College in Toronto and soon after received his Doctor of Chiropractic degree.

Medical Disclaimer:

The information presented in this blog post is for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, treatment or a diagnosis, consult with a medical professional such as one suggested on this website. The Clinic Accelerator Inc. and the author of this page are not liable for the associated risks of using or acting upon the information contained in this article.

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