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Intramuscular Stimulation

CSA is proud to have pioneered the use of IMS in Edmonton in the late 1990s (we’ve always been ahead of the curve), and we continue to be leaders in the field.

IMS is the purest form of what is called ‘dry needling’, used to treat a certain type of neuropathic pain.  All dry needling techniques use a very small acupuncture needle, and no medication or electricity.

IMS is used to treat neuropathic pain which is caused by irritation or pressure on the nerves which causes muscles to become shortened and hypersensitive. Many chronic pain conditions are caused by this neuropathic pain and can occur in the absence of inflammation or tissue damage.

Since neuropathic pain can exist without ongoing inflammation or tissue damage, painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications may provide only temporary relief or have no effect at all. In addition, x-rays, CT’s, MRI’s and other diagnostic tests may not show any visible signs of injury.

Global News Edmonton: Segment on Intramuscular Stimulation

How does IMS work?

IMS is able to treat this neuropathic pain by desensitizing affected nerves and muscles using acupuncture needles. It is important to note that there is no use of electricity with IMS, rather it is the mechanical simulation of the insertion of the needle into the affected muscles that provides the therapeutic effect.

The needle activates a reflex causing the muscle to release and in doing so, eases the pain. Inserting the needle also creates a minor therapeutic injury to the area, stimulating the body to increase local circulation and activate its healing systems.

The technique is particularly effective for deep muscles that can be difficult or impossible to reach with other forms of treatment. For example, there are some muscles around the spine and pelvis that are too deep to be treated with massage, and can only be addressed with a needle.

Conditions that can be treated using IMS

A broad range of musculoskeletal problems are now successfully treated using Intramuscular Stimulation.

  • Achilles tendonitis
  • Arthritic conditions
  • Chronic Tendonitis or Bursitis
  • Headaches
  • Low back pain
  • Myofascial Pain Syndrome
  • Neck pain and whiplash
  • Patellofemoral syndrome
  • Plantar fascitis
  • Recurrent or Persistent Injuries (including sports injuries)
  • Repetitive Stain Injuries
  • Sciatica/piriformis syndrome
  • Shin splints
  • Shoulder injuries (including frozen shoulder)
  • Spinal disc problems
  • Tennis/Golfers elbow
  • TMJ pain
  • Torticollis

It is important to note that IMS is not effective for non-musculoskeletal based pain, such as the following:

  • Chronic inflammatory pain (active arthritic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Pain related to cancer
  • Metabolic neuropathies (diabetes)
  • Degenerative neurological conditions (Lou Gehrigs’s disease, Parkinson’s disease)

If you have one of these conditions, it is unlikely that IMS will be able to help the pain.

How to determine who is a good candidate for IMS treatments

To determine the source of pain and the best approach to treatment, IMS practitioners perform a complete assessment including a medical history and physical tests. Once a full history and physical assessment is completed, your therapist will let you know if you are a good candidate for treatment or if you should consider other treatment alternatives.

If you are a good candidate for IMS treatment, sessions are usually scheduled once per week to allow time for the body to heal between sessions. The number of sessions required varies, depending on factors such as length of time a problem has been present, age and general health. In published studies of patients with low back pain, the average number of IMS treatments required was 8.2. In some cases, especially if the pain is of recent onset, one or two treatments may be sufficient.

Qualifications required to provide IMS treatment

IMS is practiced in Alberta mainly by Physiotherapists though some Medical Doctors offer it as well.

Will my doctor know about IMS?

It is quite possible that your family physician is not familiar with IMS, as they are bombarded with a huge variety of medical conditions and treatment options that they must keep up to date on. The information provided on this site represents some of the basic information that will help you or your doctor to understand how IMS works.

South Edmonton

10947 – 23 Avenue
Edmonton , AB
T6J 7B9

Tel: 780-988-5803
Fax: 780-988-5804


Grandin Plaza

#508, 1 Tache Street
St. Albert, AB
T8N 1B4

Tel: 780-458-0255
Fax: 780-460-9796


51st Avenue

10393-51 Avenue
Edmonton, AB
T6H 0K4

Tel: 780-989-9789
Fax: 780-989-9788


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