What is Gunn Intramuscular Stimulation? Gunn Intramuscular Stimulation (Gunn IMS) is a system for the diagnosis and treatment of common musculoskeletal conditions utilizing dry needles (commonly referred to as acupuncture needles). It was created by Dr. Chan Gunn of Vancouver, BC. It is grounded in medical science based on the neuropathic model of pain. Neuropathy occurs when a nerve connection in a part of the body is disrupted. This can then lead to pain and dysfunction throughout the body.
What causes dysfunction in nerves? Shortened spinal muscles are the most common cause of neuropathy. Tight spinal muscles can lead to compression of nerves where they exit the spine.
What happens when there is pressure on a nerve? Tight bands will form in all muscles supplied by a dysfunctional nerve. These tight bands will lead to shortening of muscles in the spine as well as the extremities. This can lead to an endless cycle where shortened spinal muscles will create pressure on nerves. Pressure on nerves will lead to greater shortening of spinal muscles. And on and on …
How does this process affect the extremities? Most nerve roots that exit the spine will communicate with numerous muscles in the extremities. Spinal dysfunction can cause tight bands and muscle shortening to occur in the extremities. This can occur even in the absence of neck or back pain.
What is the result of muscle shortening? Muscle shortening can lead to added stress on tendons causing pain and dysfunction. Shortened muscles crossing a joint can increase pressure on the joint leading to degenerative changes such as osteoarthritis. Shortened muscles in the spine can lead to increased pressure on the discs. Other common symptoms of muscle shortening are nerve pain such as sciatica and carpal tunnel syndrome.
How are these neuropathies detected? If the cause of the problem is neurological instead of structural, it will be invisible to x-ray, CT scan and MRI. Gunn IMS relies on a thorough physical examination looking for subtle signs of neuropathy. This unique assessment allows the Gunn IMS therapist to be effective in treating conditions that have not responded to conventional therapies or traditional acupuncture.
What is the goal of Gunn IMS? Gunn IMS is very effective at releasing shortened muscles which put pressure on nerves leading to dysfunction. Restoring nervous system function can lead to decreased mechanical pain and improved function in muscles throughout the body. The goal of Gunn IMS is to positively influence the underlying neuropathic condition that leads to pain and excess strain on tissues.
Why are acupuncture needles used? Gunn IMS treatments utilize very thin needles to penetrate deep within muscle tissue that has contracted and become shortened. They are called dry needles because they do not have a hollow shaft and no substance is injected. The result of this technique works in three distinct ways. First, the needle creates an electrical potential in the muscle allowing it to function normally again. Second, the needle causes a micro-injury which draws blood to the area and initiates a natural healing process. Third, a stretch receptor in the muscle is stimulated, producing a reflex relaxation (lengthening) in the muscle. Restoring function to the muscles that put pressure on the nerve roots can allow many symptoms to naturally correct themselves. By addressing a more central cause of symptoms the benefits of treatment can last much longer than those achieved from more conventional therapies.
Who can benefit from Gunn IMS? IMS can be very effective at treating most common musculoskeletal conditions in the spine or extremities. It can offer relief from chronic neck and back pain with or without nerve root pain. Many conditions in the extremities that are deemed to be caused mechanical loading or repetitive strain will actually have an underlying neurological component that can be improved through IMS. To find out whether a condition can be helped through this technique a thorough physical assessment by an IMS practitioner is recommended.
Is IMS covered by my extended health benefits? IMS treatments at Elevate Physiotherapy are provided by a Registered Physiotherapist and a receipt for physiotherapy will be provided. If your benefits cover physiotherapy then you should be able to submit these receipts to your benefit provider.