What is Gunn Intramuscular Stimulation?

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Sherwood Park physiotherapist Cindy Coneen learned Gunn Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS) from the UBC Department of Continuing Education in 2014. Cindy added IMS to her multifaceted physiotherapy treatment approach to have another tool to resolve multiple sites of pain and poor movement patterns in her clients.

IMS is a global assessment and treatment approach for chronic myofascial pain syndromes. Intramuscular Stimulation practitioners identify patterns of tight muscles that are caused by nerves that are not functioning well. You will need a full posture exam with movement and nerve tests for many areas. The goal is to determine local and more distant contributors to your pain pattern.

Neuropathic Pain

Neuropathic pain occurs with poor nerve communication to the spine and to the tissues supplied by the nerve. There is increased sensitivity in the nerves that supply the muscle, skin and soft tissues. In addition, neuropathic pain is associated with abnormal nerve output at the related level of the spine.

What are the signs of neuropathic pain?

  • Pain without continued tissue damage
  • Delay in feeling pain after an injury
  • Burning, deep ache, brief shooting pain
  • Mild stimulation causes severe pain
  • Decreased mobility due to muscle shortening

The nerves that control automatic functions in the Healthy Body can also show signs of poor function. These signs include changes in sweating, circulation, skin condition and Healthy Body hair. Cindy uses tests to evaluate this system as well. You may notice that an area of your Healthy Body is colder or shows signs of “goosebumps”.

How does Gunn Intramuscular Stimulation work?

Acupuncture needles are inserted into the target tight muscle to release muscle shortening. You will be asked to report if you feel ache or muscle contraction when the needle is inserted. The position of the needle may be changed to achieve the therapeutic effect before the next spinal level or muscle will be treated.

Additional effects from Intramuscular Stimulation are to remove the source of irritation at the spine and to promote healing. Needling causes a local inflammation that releases certain chemicals such as “growth factors” that contribute to healing. Long-term relief of your pain can be achieved.

How do I know IMS might help me?

To benefit from IMS, your areas of pain should have been present for more than three months or they have been coming and going repeatedly. You may not be aware of muscle tightness in the spine but this will be assessed. Cindy will look for subtle signs of nerve dysfunction in the assessment to help identify that IMS is a treatment approach that could help you. Ideally, your pain should not be severe but more persistent in nature.

How will I feel during and after Gunn IMS?

During your treatment, you will experience varying degrees of ache or contraction of the tight muscles being treated. Cindy may use either Regenerative Photon Therapy or moist heat to help soothe the initial tenderness after treatment. However, it is common to be sore in the area treated for one to two days. Heat at home can be helpful. Although you may be sore, you will often notice less nerve irritation signs and more flexibility. The number of areas needing treatment and the duration of the muscle shortening will affect the number of treatments required to achieve your goals.

Will I need other treatments in addition to Intramuscular stimulation?

Cindy will continually monitor your progress. You may require other treatment techniques to achieve myofascial balance and more optimal movement patterns to help yourself stay pain-free for a longer period.

  • Assessment and treatment approach that addresses the connection between spinal nerve input to muscles in your neck, back, legs and arms.
  • IMS is an effective treatment for chronic or recurring pain.
  • Acupuncture needles are inserted into tight muscle bands to create a chemical and electrical change to improve muscle length and muscle function.
  • Regular length muscles give normal nerve input to the spine and remain healthy.
  • Initial IMS treatments target the spinal muscles at the levels where the nerves exit to supply the tight muscles in the legs and arms.
  • Although the pain may be in one area, such as your low back, Gunn IMS will also assess the neck, upper and lower quadrants of the Healthy Body.
  • Shortened muscles with tight bands respond well to Gunn IMS.
  • It is normal to be sore for one to two days after IMS treatment due to the changes in your muscles.
  • Global Physiotherapy’s treatment goal is for you to be able to achieve the activity level that you desire with muscles that will function with less pain.
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