Current News

IMS therapy offers staff and faculty a whole new world of therapy

When I was assigned to write a first-person story on IMS therapy I must admit I was a little apprehensive.

The thought of submitting myself to a form of treatment that uses acupuncture needles didn’t exactly appeal to me. So why should anyone try IMS therapy? Well, as EnCana Wellness Centre Physical Therapist Tina White points out, the new offering at the Optimal Therapies clinic works when other forms of therapy fall short.
Jondrea De Ruyter of External Relations, braved the needles of IMS and was better off for it.
“Many people who suffer from chronic pain try conventional forms of therapy like massage, physiotherapy and manipulations or medications for years but do not find lasting relief,” says White. “These individuals tend to respond quite well to IMS.”

White has 25 years of physiotherapy experience in Canada and Australia, specializing in sports injuries, women’s health and orthopedics. Over the last seven years, White has broadened her scope to include acupuncture and IMS. Since early January she has been providing IMS therapy at the Optimal Therapies clinic.

Adapted from traditional acupuncture, IMS relies on neurology and a Western understanding of anatomy for diagnosis and treatment.

IMS treats chronic neuropathic pain, which can include conditions such as headaches, whiplash, backache, tennis elbow or frozen shoulder. Unfortunately it's  difficult to diagnose and treat because it shows no sign of tissue damage or inflammation.

The injury is caused by muscle shortening, brought on by muscle spasms and contractions. This pulls on tendons, straining them and distressing the joints they move, which causes extreme discomfort and pain. It also increases degenerative conditions such as tendonitis and osteoarthritis.

IMS therapy is truly a great tool for finding and diagnosing muscle shortening in deep muscles.

White was quick to calm my nerves. “It’s important to point out that the acupuncture needles I use in IMS therapy are very thin and are nothing like the large needles that are used to inject medicine or take blood samples.”

The goal of IMS treatment is to release muscle shortening, which presses on and irritates the nerve. Supersensitive areas can be desensitized and the persistent pull of shortened muscles can be released.

My first experience with IMS therapy has convinced me that this form of treatment definitely has some merit.

When I booked my appointment with White at Optimal Therapies, I was assessed to see if I would be a suitable candidate for IMS therapy and then I was introduced to some preliminary needling.

I was amazed at how effective the needling process was at penetrating deep into tight muscles, in a way that no other physical therapy has done for me. I’m happy to report that the needling experience wasn’t nearly as painful as I thought it would be. And, unlike acupuncture, the needles are not left in the body for a long period of time — just long enough for the muscle to grasp the needle and produce a cramping sensation, followed by a relaxing effect as the muscle spasm is released.

After I completed my session with White, I felt like I had a full-body workout and my muscles were sore for a couple of days. White says this is normal and recommends heat application to sore areas and no heavy physical exercise for 24 hours after treatment.

While I was afraid at first, now I am seeing White for weekly IMS sessions. The effects of the treatment are cumulative. IMS is only part of the treatment program though. There’s a point after you have received needling that you will need some muscle strengthening and rehabilitation in order to have full recovery.
IMS therapy falls under the scope of physiotherapy, so Mount Royal faculty and staff can claim the service through their extended health benefits plan.

So if you suffer from chronic pain, I’d recommend setting up an appointment to see if you could be a candidate for IMS therapy. You have nothing to lose — except your nagging, chronic pain. For more information contact Optimal Therapies, ext. 6917.

– Jondrea De Ruyter
   April 9, 2009