Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS)

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Relieve stubborn muscle pain with IMS

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What is Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS)?

Do you ever have a muscle that is tight and painful? Does it feel better with massage, but it just never totally goes away? Sometimes our muscles are “neurologically locked” which is to say, our nerves are telling them to be ON all of the time. While there may be a deeper underlying cause for that, IMS is a very effective way to treat this kind of muscle.

Intramuscular Stimulation or “dry needling” is a powerful treatment technique used to decrease muscle pain and improve muscle function. During IMS, “acupuncture” type needles are inserted directly into myofascial trigger points, otherwise known as muscle knots. When inserted into the appropriate location, IMS will literally make your muscle twitch. That muscle twitch is correlated with a decrease in muscle tension and pain, and an improvement in muscular function.

So, why exactly would I want to do IMS?

It can relieve muscle pain, improve mobility, decrease muscle stiffness and improve muscle function (ie. strength and recruitment). With these effects, IMS can be used to treat MANY different conditions.

Does IMS hurt?

It can hurt but you eventually look forward to it! After experiencing the relief and improvements that can be provided by IMS, most people look past the uncomfortable parts of the treatment. But yes, IMS can hurt during and after treatment. The pain during treatment usually depends how sensitive the area is to begin with. The pain afterwards usually only lasts about 24 hours and is comparable to getting a vaccination. Usually light physical activity helps the pain to decrease at a faster rate.

Are there risks to IMS?

There are risks to every treatment and IMS is no exception. Risks and benefits are discussed prior to your first treatment, by your physiotherapist. If you want to know the details before coming in for treatment, we ask that you call our clinic and we will try to have a clinician answer your questions as soon as possible.

Our Physiotherapists Performing IMS

Vivian Overton Physiotherapist Photo

Vivian Overton


Vivian graduated with a Master’s of Science in Physical Therapy from Queen’s University in 2010. She moved to Calgary and has worked with PT Health since January of 2011. Vivian has a large focus on assessing and treating the body as a whole. She has advanced training in Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS), therapeutic taping, fire-glass cupping,…

January Muhlbeier Physiotherapist

January Muhlbeier


January graduated from University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Physical Education. After a year working as a kinesiologist, she completed her Masters of Science in Physical Therapy from McMaster University in 2013. Having realized that being able to see and experience the mountains were an integral part of her well-being, she returned to Alberta….

Jessica Claflin Physiotherapist Photo

Jessica Claflin


Jessica came to physiotherapy by way of veterinary sciences. As a veterinary nurse (animal health technician), she was inspired by the remarkable outcomes she was seeing in her four-legged patients whom received physiotherapy. Her desire to learn more motivated her to return to University of Calgary where she completed her Bachelor of Science in Biology…

Matt Wylie Physiotherapist

Matt Wylie


Matt graduated with a Master’s of Science in Physical Therapy from the University of Alberta after completing an undergraduate degree in kinesiology at the University of Calgary. Originally from the Okanagan, Matt was drawn to the mountains in Alberta to pursue competitive cross-country skiing, staying in Alberta to pursue his education. Matt grew up playing…


Who can perform IMS?

Any one of our physiotherapists listed on this page can perform IMS. Although IMS is not restricted to the physiotherapy profession, most physiotherapists have advanced training to provide IMS therapy.

Is IMS the same as acupuncture?

Intramuscular stimulation IS NOT acupuncture but an acupuncturist can perform IMS, they may just have a different name for it. Acupuncture is an entire discipline, consisting of many different techniques and protocols, most of which involve the use of dry needles (the same needles used for IMS).

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