By Jacqueline Render, PT
We are excited to announce that we are now offering Gunn IMS at BodyTech Physiotherapy!
Gunn IMS is a dry needling treatment technique for the treatment of chronic myofascial or neuropathic pain.
Myofascial pain is felt as tight, sensitive musculature with muscle banding, often felt as “knots” or “trigger points.” You may experience pain from the shortened muscles directly, or from chronic pain on the tendons or compression of the joints the muscles pass over. Often, people with myofascial pain find that they are unable to stretch to relieve the muscle tightness. It is often made worse by activity or exercise. People with myofascial or neuropathic pain will often describe deep aching, burning or shooting/stabbing pain or sensitivity to pain beyond what would be considered normal for that situation. The affected area may feel heavy or different compared to the other side or other areas of the body. There may also be changes to the hair or skin around the affected regions.
Chronic myofascial pain often has sensory, motor (movement) or autonomic changes that indicate problems with the function of the peripheral nervous system. Many chronic pain problems fit into the myofascial pain spectrum, some examples include: achilles tendinitis, bursitis, tennis elbow, shin splints, plantar fasciitis and piriformis syndrome.
Gunn IMS can be very effective for chronic pain that is not resolving with traditional approaches to treatment.  The goal of IMS treatment is to stimulate the nervous system and release muscle shortening caused by dysfunction, to allow a “reset” to the nervous system, and create an environment at a cellular and nervous system level to promote healing. This “reset” to the system stimulates the nervous system, which calms it, improves movement patterns and relieves pain associated with dysfunctional muscle tension. It creates an opportunity for you and your therapist to progress rehabilitation.
What is dry needling?
Dry needling is a class of treatments that use fine, solid needles to penetrate the body’s tissues. Any form of needling that does not inject a substance into the body is considered “dry needling.” Acupuncture and IMS are considered dry needling.
Is it painful?
IMS needles are inserted into a patient’s tight bands of muscle. The insertion of the needle is not painful and often not even felt by the patient. When the needle penetrates the tight band of muscle, a sensation of heaviness or cramping occurs. This is necessary for the therapeutic effect, but it is short lived, usually only lasting for seconds. Patients may feel some heaviness or aching in the treated muscles for a day or two after treatment, much like the feeling of muscles after a workout.
How does it work?
There are a few ways that IMS works. The first is that it creates a local reflex to the nervous system that allows the muscle to relax. The second is that is creates a small amount of local inflammation, which activates the body’s healing responses. A third is that if applied to tight muscles that cross the spine or an irritated joint, it reduces compression through the joint or on the nerves as they exit from the spine
Is it safe?
Our physiotherapists have been extensively trained in the safety of this treatment both in application of the treatment and in screening patients for this treatment. Your therapist will discuss the risks and potential benefits of treatment with you before determining if this is an appropriate treatment option for you.
Please note, this treatment is not appropriate for those with bleeding disorders or who are currently pregnant.
Who would benefit from this treatment?
Gunn IMS is possibly indicated for:
– Individuals with chronic pain that lasts beyond normal healing timelines for an injury, or pain that may have occurred without any specific injury
- Individuals who have recurrent pain
- Individuals with syndromes that are long-lasting and failing to progress (e.g. Tennis elbow, achilles tendinitis)
- Individuals who have plateaued with other treatments
- Individuals with symptoms of nerve dysfunction (a ‘wiring problem’)
- Sensations of heaviness or aching in one or multiple limbs
- Sensation that their limb feels ‘different’
- Individuals who are unable to strengthen a muscle no matter how hard they work it
- Individuals who are unable to stretch a muscle no matter how much you try to stretch it
Your physiotherapist will ask you questions and assess you to determine whether this is a treatment that could possibly benefit you.
What to expect?
Your physiotherapist will perform a full examination including your personal report of your pain, medical history and goals for treatment. They will perform a full musculoskeletal examination to determine the treatment most appropriate for you. This assessment may look different than other physiotherapy examination, as they are looking for signs of nervous system sensitization or dysfunction. Points for needling will be chosen based on the location of your pain, and the sensitivity of your nervous system.
Gunn IMS can be applied as a standalone treatment, but it is often combined with manual therapy and a home exercise program geared towards the individual patient.
How do I prepare for this treatment?
You can prepare like any other physiotherapy appointment. It will be important for your physiotherapist to access the skin of the areas being treated. Bring a pair of shorts with you, and for women, a tank top or bra/sports bra (that opens at the back) that you are comfortable wearing. Your physiotherapist can also provide you with shorts or a gown, if you prefer.
I am interested in Gunn IMS treatment, how do I book?
If you would like to book a physiotherapy appointment, call or email our clinic. When booking, mention that you are interested in IMS and you will be booked with a practitioner that is certified in Gunn IMS.