Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS)

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Discover the benefits of Intramuscular stimulation (IMS). This technique, sometimes referred to as dry needling, is minimally invasive and can reduce pain aggravated by chronic muscle tightness. It involves insertions of small needles to release muscle tension, which is often associated with nerve pain.

At Seattle Spine & Sports Medicine we offer our patients a wider variety of treatments to help resolve the pain or discomfort caused by sports injuries, motor vehicle accidents, and chronic conditions.




Intramuscular stimulation (IMS) is a minimally invasive technique that can reduce pain aggravated by chronic muscle tightness. This technique uses insertions of small needles to release muscle tension, which is often associated wtih nerve pain.


  • Nerves and muscles work together to help your body move normally. When nerves become irritated or damaged, the muscles they control can become weak, shortened and painful. This condition is known as neuromyofascial pain.
  • IMS involves inserting tiny needles into the muscles most affected by the nerve problem. When the chemical relationship between nerves and muscles is altered by injury, muscle pain and weakness can result.
  • IMS allows painful muscle knots or “bands” to be broken up, which begins the healing process.
  • The longer term benefit comes from creating a tiny injury in the muscle. As the treated area heals, it releases repair factors to re-create a normal relationship between muscle and nerve.
  • This technique was pioneered by Dr. Chan Gunn, who founded the Institute for the Study and Treatment of Pain (ISTOP) in Vancouver BC and who has been distinguished clinical faculty at the University of Washington for several years.


  • Increased soreness after the procedure is not uncommon, and this usually subsides within a few days. A few patients may be lightheaded after the procedure, treatable with rest and cool compresses for about 15 minutes.
  • There is an extremely unlikely possibility of excessive bleeding, significant nerve injury, and infection, none of which have been encountered within our clinic.


  • In our experience, IMS is one of the most effective "low-tech" treatments for chronic pain.
  • It is best if IMS is combined with other treatment modalities such as spinal manipulation, soft tissue mobilization, and/or therapeutic exercise.

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