What is Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS) in Physiotherapy? A Short Guide

By: Parm Bhullar, Physiotherapist

What is intramuscular stimulation (IMS)? 

Intramuscular stimulation (IMS) is a technique in the realm of physiotherapy, and is gaining traction among health professionals. At Hayer Health, our certified physiotherapists employ IMS to help patients alleviate muscular pain and treat taut bands within the muscle. This technique involves using a sterile, disposable needle that targets painful, tight muscle bands.

While IMS shares similarities with dry needling, its roots are based in neuropathic pain principles that make it distinctive. At our clinic, every IMS session begins with a comprehensive musculoskeletal assessment. This ensures a tailored approach, enhancing the effectiveness of the treatment.

What are the benefits of IMS?

IMS can be highly effective in managing conditions such as trigger points, myofascial pain syndrome, and various musculoskeletal issues. Its precise application can reduce pain by altering the biochemical markers at the trigger point. However, results can vary based on the individual, their presenting condition and the expertise or skill of the physiotherapist. While IMS is popular and has many proponents, patients are advised to consider potential side effects.

Are there any negatives or potential risks with IMS? 

While IMS is generally considered a safe treatment technique, there are possible post-treatment side effects. Most of the symptoms or effects are considered to be mild and may include bruising, bleeding, dizziness, experiencing muscle soreness or pain. 

At Hayer Health, we prioritize safety by screening for contraindications and obtaining informed consent before treatment. We adhere to strict sterile techniques to minimize any risks, ensuring a safe and positive experience.

How often should I come in to receive treatment?

The frequency of IMS treatments at Hayer Health varies. It depends on the specific condition being treated, the individual’s response to therapy, and their overall progress. Our physiotherapists in Vancouver will develop a personalized treatment plan based on a detailed assessment.

Is there anything I need to know about post treatment care? 

While individuals may respond to IMS in different ways, there are a few general recommendations for those receiving the treatment. We recommend avoiding strenuous activity for up to two days following treatment. Lower intensity, light movement or activity to promote circulation and reduce muscle stiffness is advisable if tolerated. For individuals who may respond with increased fatigue or soreness, allowing your body to rest and recover is totally appropriate. Staying hydrated by drinking lots of water before and following treatment. Applying heat may be suggested by your therapist, which can help with post-treatment symptoms for some individuals. Always report any unusual symptoms post-treatment to your physiotherapist.