Tag Archives: muscle spasm

Gunn IMS

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. [1] 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.


Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a form of treatment which involves the insertion of tiny needles into the skin at very precise points throughout the body. The needles are solid, sterile, and single-use. No medication is injected. The presence of the needles creates a therapeutic effect by encouraging healing, reducing pain, and promoting energy.

Acupuncture

How does acupuncture work?
There are two approaches to acupuncture: classical acupuncture and anatomical acupuncture.

Classical acupuncture is rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In TCM theory, energy flows through the body in predictable channels, called meridians. Pain and dysfunction occur when the flow of energy is deficient or out of balance. TCM theory proposes that acupuncture relieves pain and promotes good health by restoring the body’s energy balance. The acupuncture points are located along the meridians. Needles are inserted to correct energy imbalance and restore energy flow throughout the meridian. Therefore, pain and dysfunction in one part of the body can be treated with acupuncture points at a distant location in the body.

Anatomical acupuncture was developed based on Western anatomical and physiological concepts. In this theory, acupuncture has both local and distant effects:

  • Locally, acupuncture needles stimulate the release of endogenous opioids at the site of the needle. Endogenous opioids are natural painkiller molecules that are synthesized in the body and released to decrease pain. Blood supply to the area is increased, which promotes healing by improving the delivery of oxygen and immune cells to the injured tissue. Immune cells, such as mast cells, macrophages, and fibroblasts aid the natural process of tissue healing. The needles also suppress the local inflammatory response, which further helps to decrease swelling and pain.
  • Distal to the needle site, acupuncture stimulates peripheral afferent nerves. Afferent nerves carry sensation signals from nerve endings to the brain (such as sensations of touch, temperature, and pain). The acupuncture needle interacts with the afferent nerves to modulate and suppress the transmission of pain to the brain. This reduces the perception of pain.

What are the benefits of acupuncture?
Acupuncture is effective in treating a wide variety of neurological and musculoskeletal disorders, including:

  • Tendonitis and tendinopathy
  • Ligament sprains
  • Muscle strains
  • Myofascial pain and inflammation
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Nerve pain, such as sciatic pain
  • Low back pain and disc bulges
  • Whiplash and other neck pain
  • Muscle tension headache and suboccipital headache
  • Bell’s palsy and trigeminal neuralgia
  • Fibromyalgia

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), acupuncture is used to treat many other conditions:

  • Digestive problems (nausea, vomiting, constipation)
  • Respiratory problems (sinusitis, congestion, bronchitis)
  • Urinary problems
  • Menstrual pain
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety and stress

What can I expect from acupuncture treatment?
The reaction to treatment is unique to each person. Some people feel relief immediately, while others notice improvement after hours or days. Some people require several treatments before noticing improvement. Some people do not respond at all. The number of treatments required varies for each patient and condition. Similar to most types of treatment, acupuncture works best if it is repeated a few times.

Are there any side effects?
There are usually no side effects to acupuncture treatment. The most common side effects are tenderness or slight bruising/bleeding at the needle site, but these only occur approximately 6% of the time. Occasionally, someone may feel nauseous, faint, or dizzy. This occurs less than 1% of the time.

Your physiotherapist will assess you thoroughly to ensure that you are a safe and appropriate candidate for acupuncture treatment.

Preparing for acupuncture treatment
Prior to treatment, have a light meal and be well-rested. Avoid alcohol or sedative medications for 4 hours before treatment, and avoid smoking tobacco for 1 hour before treatment. Continue to take medication as prescribed by your doctor.

After acupuncture treatment avoid alcohol, caffeine, and smoking tobacco for 1-2 hours. If you are being treated for pain relief, avoid strenuous activity for 1-2 days after treatment, even if you feel pain-free.

Conclusion
Acupuncture is a useful adjunct treatment to physiotherapy. It is effective for treating a wide variety of musculoskeletal and neurological problems, including acute and chronic conditions. Your physiotherapist will assess you thoroughly and create a treatment plan to address your unique needs.

BodyTech Physiotherapy

References
ZQ Zhao. Neural mechanism underlying acupuncture analgesia. Progress in Neurobiology. (2008)

ZJ Zhang, XM Wang, GM McAlonan. Neural acupuncture unit: A new concept for interpreting effects and mechanisms of acupuncture. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2012)

SM Wang, ZN Kain, P White. Acupuncture analgesia: I. The scientific basis. Anesthesia and Analgesia (2008).