At Elevate Physiotherapy we are passionate about dry needling (and more specifically Gunn IMS). All of our therapists have at least 10 years experience using dry needles in their clinical practice. Dave instructs through the UBC Faculty of Medicine Gunn IMS program. He has helped train hundreds of physiotherapists and medical doctors how to safely and effectively integrate dry needling into their clinical practice. Andrea and Denise have both travelled to Vancouver to complete certification in Gunn IMS through the University of British Columbia.
Gunn IMS was developed by Dr. Chan Gunn out of Vancouver, BC. The primary focus of Gunn IMS is to use dry needles to address tissue changes occurring in the body that can be responsible for chronic pain as well as many other orthopaedic conditions.
At the core of Dr. Gunn’s principles is the premise that when tissues do not receive optimal communication from the nervous system they will exhibit dysfunction. Through a detailed assessment by a trained practitioner, these signs are visible, treatable, and often reversible.
Treatment is provided by directing a monofilament needle into areas of dysfunction within a muscle. There are many documented effects of inserting a needle, but two of the most prominent effects are chemical and electrical changes that occur after needle insertion. Chemical changes within the muscle stimulate the body to heal itself. Electrical changes in the area will help a muscle return to normal function and provide feedback to the nervous system to help make systemic and lasting changes in the body. The treatment revolves around identifying dysfunctional patterns common to pain and overuse syndromes and treating a central link common to the cluster of symptoms.
This stimulus can be thought of as resetting, "rebooting", or normalizing the function of the nervous system in order to create longer lasting changes in distribution of load throughout the body and allowing a natural healing process to occur.
Differences between Gunn IMS and Acupuncture
The Gunn IMS assessment is based on looking for signs and symptoms of nervous system dysfunction. Based on these findings a treatment plan is developed grounded on current medical knowledge of anatomy, physiology and biochemistry. A needle is inserted into a tight band (or trigger point) in the muscle and immediately removed. This stimulus mechanically, chemically, and electrically alters the function of the muscle and the nervous system.
Acupuncture is based on traditional Chinese medicine theories and philosophies. Needles are most commonly inserted into points along meridians (channels) to alter the flow of energy referred to as Qi (chee). These needles will be then left in place for a period of time and may also be stimulated by electricity.
Differences between Gunn IMS and Trigger point dry needling
The differences between Gunn IMS and trigger point dry needling commonly require clarification. The term dry needle refers to a needle without a hollow bore on the inside. Dry needles can also be referred to as monofilament needles or acupuncture needles (which is only correct if they are used to perform acupuncture). Gunn IMS uses a dry needle and is a form of dry needling. However, everyone that is performing dry needling is not performing Gunn IMS. The differentiation between dry needling and Gunn IMS is based on the assessment and treatment plan developed by the therapist. A certified Gunn IMS practitioner will use a thorough neuropathic assessment and treatment plan aimed at addressing an underlying neurological contribution to many conditions. In contrast, trigger point dry needling is the act of sticking a needle into a painful trigger point and will often not address the cause of the formation of the trigger point in the first place.
The skill level of physiotherapists offering dry needling varies greatly. Some take very intense university based courses, others are taught in a single weekend. All of the physiotherapists at Elevate Physiotherapy have received training through the University of British Columbia Gunn Intramuscular Stimulation program. This program is taught through the Faculty of Medicine at the University if British Columbia. It is externally audited to ensure the highest standards of safety and has a large focus on current best practices.