Lab Health Physio is proud to offer the specialized training technique of intramuscular stimulation (IMS). It is a needling techniques that involves the insertion of fine needles in specific points in muscles to achieve a relaxation of the muscle or improve function of a weak (atrophied) muscle. IMS physiologically releases shortened bands of muscles and decreases trigger point activity, which can contribute to immediate reduction in pain and muscle dysfunction.
muscle pain/myofascial pain
joint soreness or ache
back pain treatment
sciatic nerve pain
Dry Needling by a Physical Therapist:
What you should know...
Dry needling is a technique performed by a trained physical therapists used to treat myofascial (muscle) pain. The technique uses a “dry” needle, one without medication or injection, inserted through the skin into areas of the muscle, known as trigger points. IMS is commonly used for lower back pain treatment, neck pain treatment and sciatica relief, to list a few.
Other terms commonly used to describe dry needling, include trigger point dry needling, and intramuscular stimulation (IMS).
Dry needling is not acupuncture, a practice based on traditional Chinese medicine and performed by acupuncturists. Dry needling is a part of modern Western medicine principles, and supported by research (1).
A trigger point is a taut band of skeletal muscle located within a larger muscle group. Trigger points can be tender to the touch, and touching a trigger point may cause lower back pain, sciatica, muscle cramping or spasms in other parts of the body, etc .
IMS can be used successfully and often with immediate relief when used for back pain treatment or sciatica nerve pain relief.
Dry needling involves a thin filiform needle that penetrates the skin and stimulates underlying myofascial trigger points and muscular and connective tissues. The needle allows a physical therapist to target tissues that are difficult to reach through the surface.
Physical therapists are trained in all aspects of safety and disposal (ie. wearing gloves, following standard precautions and contraindications and infection prevention for outpatient settings.)
Why try IMS?
In cases when dry needling is used by physical therapists, it is typically one technique that's part of a larger treatment plan.
Physical therapists use dry needling with the goal of releasing or inactivating trigger points to relieve pain or improve range of motion. Preliminary research (2) supports that dry needling improves pain control, reduces muscle tension, and normalizes dysfunctions of the motor end plates, the sites at which nerve impulses are transmitted to muscles. This can help speed up the patient's return to active rehabilitation.
As part of their entry level education, physical therapists are well educated in anatomy and therapeutic treatment of the body. Physical therapists who perform dry needling supplement that knowledge by obtaining specific postgraduate education and training. Our Physiotherapist Beth Bates completed her training in the United States and has been using various needling techniques for years. She is trained in Physio Acupuncture and Dry Needling.
1. Cummings MT, White AR. Needling therapies in the management of myofascial trigger point pain: a systematic review. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2001;82(7):986–992. Free Article.
2. Kalichman L, Vulfsons S. Dry needling in the management musculoskeletal pain. J Am Board Fam Med. 2010;23(5):640–646. Free Article.
"It hurts, but it works!"
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