Gunn Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS) is a total system for the diagnosis and treatment of persistent myofascial pain syndromes including muscle, joint, tendon, bursal, fascial, neural, and biomechanical problems.
The approach, using intramuscular dry needling is based on the neuropathic model developed in the 1970’s by Dr. Chan Gunn, a Canadian Physician. This model looks at the whole body, not just isolated areas of pain, and considers dysfunction in the nervous system as the cause of persistent myofascial dysfunction and pain.
IMS is based on the premise that many musculoskeletal pain conditions arise from neuromuscular dysfunction, specifically involving tight bands of muscle or shortened muscles known as “neuropathic muscle pain.”
The goal of IMS is to target and release these tight muscles or trigger points to relieve pain and restore normal function.
During an IMS session, fine acupuncture needles are inserted into the affected muscles or soft tissues, typically at or near the site of pain or dysfunction. The needles are specifically inserted into areas where the muscles have become tight or shortened due to nerve irritation.
Prior to the insertion of needles, the practitioner performs a thorough assessment of the patient’s musculoskeletal system. The assessment includes a physical examination, taking into account medical history, pain patterns, and any relevant diagnostic imaging. The examination helps identify the areas of neuromuscular dysfunction and determine the appropriate needle insertion points.
Once the needles are inserted, the practitioner may gently move them to elicit a local twitch response (LTR). The LTR is a brief involuntary contraction of the muscle, indicating a therapeutic effect. The LTR helps release the tight muscle bands and restore proper muscle function.
The intended effects of Gunn IMS include the release of muscle tension, improved circulation, reduction of nerve irritation, and overall pain relief. By restoring proper muscle function and alleviating nerve irritation, IMS aims to promote healing and restore normal movement patterns.
Gunn IMS is commonly used to address a range of musculoskeletal conditions, including chronic muscle pain, myofascial pain syndrome, repetitive strain injuries, sports injuries, whiplash-associated disorders, and certain nerve-related pain conditions. It is often used in conjunction with other therapeutic modalities, such as exercise, manual therapy, and patient education.
Dry needling is a therapeutic technique that involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points in the body, known as trigger points or myofascial trigger points, without injecting any substances. It is a procedure commonly used by physical therapists, chiropractors, and some other healthcare professionals as part of a comprehensive treatment approach.
Dry needling targets trigger points, which are tight bands of muscle or nodules within muscles that may be sensitive or cause pain. These trigger points can develop due to muscle overuse, injuries, or other factors.
The therapist inserts a thin, solid needle through the skin and into the trigger point. The depth of insertion varies depending on the location and depth of the trigger point being targeted.
The exact mechanisms behind the effectiveness of dry needling are not fully understood. However, it is believed to elicit various physiological responses. It may help relax tight muscles, improve blood flow, reduce pain sensitivity, and promote the release of natural pain-relieving substances in the body, such as endorphins.
It’s important to note that dry needling is distinct from acupuncture, which is rooted in traditional Chinese medicine and follows a different theoretical framework. While both practices involve the use of thin needles, the rationale, points selected, and treatment goals differ.
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