Acupuncture and IMS

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is the insertion of fine needles into specific points of the body to achieve a therapeutic effect.  The needles affect the movement of an energy source called “Qi” which is stored along channels throughout the body. When Qi becomes imbalanced, stagnant or depleted, people’s health will decline. Acupuncture aims to restore the balance and flow of Qi, thereby improving the patient’s health.

What is the process like?

In your initial visit we will go through a full history and obtain a thorough understanding of your health concerns. Your tongue and pulse will be assessed to help determine appropriate acupuncture points for your treatment. After the assessment, an initial treatment can often be provided.

For follow-up visits, there will be a quick check-in but there will be more time spent on treatment.

Treatments are typically 30 minutes in length.

What can acupuncture treat?

Acupuncture has been acknowledged to be effective in treating a variety of health concerns including gynecological, cardiovascular, respiratory, pain, mental health, gastrointestinal, neurological and even symptom management from the adverse reactions from chemotherapy and radiation.

Does acupuncture hurt?

There may be a slight pinch when the needle is inserted but it often recedes within a few seconds. If there is lasting pain, please tell the doctor so he can make adjustments. Most patients find acupuncture to be very relaxing and people often fall asleep on the table.

How many acupuncture sessions will I need?

It really depends on the person, but often between 4-8 acupuncture sessions will show benefit. Often, people will decrease their appointments over time and come in for monthly ‘tune-ups’ to keep things balanced.

What is IMS?

Intramuscular stimulation involves the insertion of acupuncture type needles into shortened, contracted and often painful muscles. With IMS, we target what is called a neuromuscular junction, that will first stimulate the muscle twitch or grab, and then relax and return to its normal state. The muscles are treated solely with mechanical insertion of the needles- there is no electric stimulus provided.

What is the process like?

There must first be a full work-up to determine the root of your problem. This will likely involve a short history gathering followed by orthopedic tests and palpation of the muscles. Once the problem area has been determined, needles are inserted into the area and a twitch is often provoked. The amount of points needles depends on the patient’s concern and tolerance.

What can IMS treat?

A wide range of musculoskeletal problems can be successfully treated with IMS including the following:

  • Achilles tendonitis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Chronic tendonitis
  • Chronic pain
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Golfers elbow
  • Headaches
  • IT band syndrome
  • Jaw and TMJ pain
  • Low back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Knee pain
  • Piriformis syndrome
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Repetitive strain injuries
  • Sciatica
  • Shin splints
  • Shoulder pain
  • Sports injuries
  • Tennis elbow
  • Trigger finger

Does IMS hurt?

Most patients find IMS to be uncomfortable during the procedure, and the pain or discomfort will often persist for 24-48 hours. It can be quite a surprise for some patients how strong a small needle can feel. To help with the pain it is recommended to use heat, taking a hot bath or shower, massaging the area and doing some light stretching or just ‘normal physical activity’ to encourage blood flow to the area. Applying ice or a cold pack before bed may be advisable as well.

How many IMS appointments will I need?

It really depends on the type of injury (chronic, acute, severe, minor…) and the patient (age, health status) but typically patients find relief after 4-6 sessions and significant relief after 8-10. There are some patients that notice immediate relief after just one treatment.

So what’s the difference between acupuncture and IMS?

Acupuncture focuses on putting needles into specific locations to help balance the flow of Qi in the body and it has more of an energetic focus. IMS focuses very specifically on anatomy, physiology and function of muscles, ‘trigger points’ and nerves in the area to decrease pain and increase function more directly.