Demystifying Dry needling & IMS
What is Dry Needling?
Dry Needling is a treatment used by medical professionals to treat issues related to myofascial and neuromuscular dysfunction. This can include but is not limited to muscle pain, pain referral patterns, migraines/ headaches, poor or restricted posture, restrictions in range of motion of a joint and chronic musculoskeletal issues.
The thin monofilament needles, also referred to as acupuncture needles, are inserted into tight bands within the affected muscles. These needles do not contain any substance or medication, hence the term ‘dry needling’. The needle stimulation of the muscle causes a contraction, or local twitch response, followed by relaxation of the muscle. While the process can sometimes be uncomfortable, the final results can include a decrease in symptoms such as pain, improved posture and body position, and an increase in range of motion. The insertion of the needle also stimulates increased blood flow to the area which can support tissue healing and recovery.
In cases where the pain or other symptoms being treated are a part of a greater or more complex condition involving multiple areas of the body, dry needling has been found to elicit muscle signalling upstream to the central nervous system. This process can aid in re-establishing a healthy connection to the muscle, which is required for strength and appropriate sensation and pain regulation.
IMS and TrP-DN
You may have heard of the terms IMS and TrP-DN in conjunction with physiotherapy treatment. Although these practices are similar in their use of needles, they do differ slightly in their underlying theories and applications. Here is a short overview of their underlying principles. It is important to point out that both of these techniques are separate from Traditional Chinese Medicine Acupuncture.
Intra-muscular stimulation (IMS) is a diagnostic and treatment method used in the management of myofascial pain syndromes including muscle, joint, tendon, fascial and biomechanical problems based on a neuropathic model of musculoskeletal dysfunction. Its assessment and treatment focuses on the body as a whole but in particular dysfunction at the spine that includes the peripheral nervous system that can drive and influence dysfunction and pain both locally to the area or more distally into the peripheral limbs and around the peripheral joints. This can cause tight, shortened and painful muscles that can be treated and released using the fine acupuncture needles that target the tight bands and sensitive areas within the muscles. Treatment will help to normalize the tone of the muscles, reduce pain and desensitize the peripheral nervous system. IMS is used in the treatment of many painful conditions of the spine and peripheral joints but is especially effective in treating peripheral neuropathy and any persistent or recurring pain, injury or dysfunction in the body.
Trigger Point Dry Needling (TrP-DN) is based on the theory of pain referral patterns. While tight bands (sometimes called trigger points) can exist anywhere in the muscles, common points have been mapped in the human body along with commonly experienced referred pain patterns. For example, an actively tight band in the trapezius muscle (“traps” or upper shoulder) has been shown to cause the experience of pain in the neck, side of the head and jaw. For an individual who presents with some or all of these pain patterns, they may benefit from release of tight bands within the trapezius muscle.
In most cases, dry needling will form part of your treatment plan and will be used in combination with other treatment methods such as manual therapy and/or exercise prescription.
Is dry needling right for you?
As part of your physiotherapy assessment, Hannah Barnes (trained in IMS) or Simone Beattie (trained in TrP-DN), will be able to determine whether you may benefit from dry needling treatment. As dry needling is an invasive treatment, any risks associated with your personal health conditions or medications will need to be evaluated. In the case where dry needling is not appropriate, or you choose not to receive this treatment, other options for treatment will be offered and discussed with you in your appointment.
How do you prepare for your dry needling treatment?
Ensure you are feeling well on the day of your treatment. This includes feeling well rested, hydrated and try to eat within 1-3 hours prior to your appointment. Take all medications as prescribed. If you have any questions or concerns relating to dry needling treatment, please discuss these in your appointment with your treating practitioner. Any minors receiving dry needling treatment will require their parent or guardian present.
Call us to book your Initial Physiotherapy Appointment at 778-640-1119 or book online through our website!