IMS is used to treat neuropathic pain which is caused by irritation or pressure on the nerves causing muscles to become shortened and hypersensitive. Many chronic pain conditions are caused by neuropathy 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.
IMS affects neuropathic pain by desensitizing affected nerves and muscles using acupuncture needles. 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.
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.