8 Types of Injuries Treated with IMS

8 types of injuries treated with IMS!

What is IMS?

IMS which is short for intramuscular stimulation is the insertion of a metal needle into a motor point of a muscle to cause an involuntary twitch response. This muscle contraction has been shown to quickly remove the pain-producing chemicals (hydrogen ions) from the muscle.

The muscle contraction allows a reset!

The muscle will normalize and relax instead of being stuck in a shortened contraction phase. The sudden release of the muscle has also been theorized to restore normal blood flow to the region. Increased blood flow means increased nutrients which means normal muscle function. A muscle that is deprived of nutrients can’t relax and causes muscle soreness and fatigue.

How can IMS treatment help me?

We are very frequently asked by newcomers to Avenue Physio “I see you perform IMS treatment will that help my condition?”

The response is almost always YES!

IMS needling can be very effective at helping new or old injuries heal.

8 types of Injuries treated with IMS

If you have any of those conditions ask us on your first visit to try some dry needling techniques to get on the road to less pain and better function

1. Joint problems (osteoarthritis)

IMS treatment works on joint pain by easing the muscle tension holding and compressing the joint. This can cause increased pain and decreased range of motion.

2. Nerve pain (sciatica)

IMS treatment helps desensitize inflamed nerves while restoring flexibility and movement patterns.

3.Headaches (tension-type)

IMS treatment works on headaches by easing the muscle tension that is referring to the pain in the head in muscles like your upper trapezius.

4. Jaw problems (temporomandibular dysfunction)

IMS treatment works on jaw restrictions by releasing the muscles that open and close the jaw to decrease muscle tension, imbalances and joint issues of clicking/locking.

5. Muscle strains and ligament sprains

IMS treatment helps by reducing the muscle tension in the shortened muscles due to overuse or underuse in any area of the body.

6. Post-operative procedures (ACL reconstruction)

IMS needling can help get the quad muscles activating as they once did pre-surgery to jumpstart your ability to straighten your leg

7. Post fracture

IMS needling can help activate atrophied calf muscles after you have been immobilized in a walking boot for an extended time.

8. Whiplash

IMS needling can help to decrease muscle tension and reduce pressure on the joints of the neck to decrease pain to facilitate
rehabilitation of the weak and injured muscles.



Just about every injury or pain state creates dysfunction within the surrounding muscle tissue, which can be effectively treated with this technique.

For example, an ankle sprain may result in tight muscles along the shin or in the calf, which can lead to excessive pain and discomfort in the ankle. In this situation, dry needling can be used to relax and off-load these muscles in order to provide optimal conditions for the healing ligaments and tendons.

Still not sure if IMS is for you and have more questions about the treatment. Well, let’s answer the most common questions that we get from our patients. The first question we are always asked when we recommend IMS is it is painful?

Is IMS painful?

You will feel a strong sensation from the involuntary muscle twitch which is often described as “odd” and occasionally “achy” or “uncomfortable”.

Do you inject anything with IMS?

No, there are no injections involved in the technique. The needle is blunt without a lumen (no hole to inject fluid), so it is simply the stimulus of the metal needle within the muscle tissue that is sufficient to create the desired result.

Who Can Do IMS?

Due to the high level of knowledge and skill involved, Dry Needling is considered a restricted activity by the College of Physical Therapists of Alberta (CPTA). Only a Health Care Practitioner who has been trained and examined in the use of IMS is permitted to use this technique. The CPTA website provides information regarding whether your Therapist is permitted to perform this restricted activity.

Will I be sore after the IMS treatment?

The process of resetting the muscle causes a cascade of events to occur in the muscle cell. The soreness following IMS is attributed to the release of hydrogen ions, a component of lactic acid. These ions are trapped within the tight/contracted bands of muscle. When the muscle is released by the needle, these ions are released into the bloodstream as they get flushed out of the muscle. This creates a sensation quite similar to post-exercise muscle soreness (fatigue, achiness, heaviness)

What can I expect after the IMS treatment?

The muscle soreness can last 24 – 48 hours following treatment. Often the muscle pain that you were being treated for is relieved and it is replaced with the IMS treatment for muscle soreness. The muscle soreness that you experience is not a sign of injury. The tip of the needle is actually blunt, intended to separate the cells as it enters the muscle rather than cut through the cells the way traditional needles do. On occasion, bruising may occur, but this is due to the needle coming in contact with a blood vessel and does not indicate injury to the muscle

What if I am deadly afraid of needles?

Don’t worry! It is actually more uncomfortable than painful and we have performed it on people that were deathly afraid of injection needles without any issues!

To summarize IMS treatment:

  • It can be very effective at helping new or old injuries heal
  • It can be used for almost all musculoskeletal conditions
  • It can often offer instant pain relief
  • It can allow for proper movement and function of muscles
    It is safe when performed by trained Physiotherapists.

IMS needling is used as a part of an overall Physiotherapy plan that will include some type of exercise, manual therapy, and education about what you can do to get better. IMS treatment It is a great choice for you to manage your pain and get back to the life activities you enjoy most. 


So what are you waiting for?

Let’s get you back to doing the things you love! If you think you are a candidate for this type of treatment come see us today for an assessment or contact us at info@fifthavephysio.com for more information!

All Avenue Physio are fully trained and highly skilled in the application of IMS.



What is the difference between IMS & acupuncture?

Acupuncture treats for the purpose of altering the flow of Qi (or energy) along traditional Chinese meridians while IMS needling follows evidence-based guidelines, recommended “point” locations, and dosages for the treatment of specific conditions. Acupuncture is used more often with acute widespread inflammation and acute pain. IMS needling is used specifically for
muscles with trigger points that are causing pain or decreased function.

How effective is IMS?

IMS is extremely effective at decreasing the tension in a muscle and reducing pain after your first session. We expect to see some improvement after the first session but generally, 3-4 sessions are required to resolve most pain patterns and 6 -10 sessions are required to improve most movement patterns.

What is the difference between IMS and dry needling?

They are largely the same. Dry Needling is a generic term for the use of a needle to release a motor point in the muscle, while IMS (Intramuscular Stimulation) and FDN (Functional Dry Needling) are essentially brand names that depict the Practitioner’s specific training background.


Written by Kelly Barrie

Kelly is the owner of Avenue Physio and is proud to be part of a supportive and personable team that is dedicated to providing a high quality of treatment and experience to patients. She has been a physiotherapist for over 25 years treating a range of orthopedic conditions including chronic pain, motor vehicle collisions, and sports injuries (from the weekend warrior to high level). Kelly has always been passionate about movement and promoting healthy lifestyles. First, as a Certified Personal Trainer, and for the last 25 years as a physiotherapist. Kelly has completed the highest level of Certification in Manual and Manipulative Therapy that is internationally recognized (FCAMPT). Advanced knowledge of strengthening programs, manual therapy skills, and critical thinking optimize her treatment plans for her patients so they can reach their movement goals.