What is Gunn Intramuscular Stimulation?
Gunn Intramuscular Stimulation (Gunn IMS) is a specialized form of dry needling. It is system for the diagnosis and treatment of many common musculoskeletal conditions that 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 of the muscles supplied by a nerve that has pressure on it. Accumulation of these tight bands will lead to shortening of muscles in the spine as well as the extremities. This can lead to an ongoing cycle where shortened spinal muscles will create pressure on nerves. Pressure on nerves will then lead to greater shortening of spinal muscles. And so on, and so on …
How does this process affect the extremities?
Tight band formation and muscle shortening occurs in all muscles that are supplied by an affected nerve. Each nerve root that exits the spine will communicate with numerous muscles in the extremities. Even subtle spinal dysfunction can cause tight bands and muscle shortening to occur in the extremities. This can even occur 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 tendon problems. Shortened muscles crossing a joint can increase pressure on the joint leading to pain and degenerative changes such as osteoarthritis. Shortened muscles in the spine can lead to increased pressure on the discs. Other common causes 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 or 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 press on and irritate nerves. The result can lead to decreasing mechanical pain and restoring function in muscles throughout the body. In effect, Gunn IMS is treating the underlying neuropathic condition that causes pain and excess strain on tissues.
Why are needles used?
IMS treatments utilize dry needles (commonly referred to as acupuncture needles, but with subtle variations) to penetrate deep within muscle tissue that has contracted and become shortened. 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. If the spinal muscles putting pressure on the nerve can be restored to normal function, than results of treatment can last much longer than those seen from more conventional therapies.
Who can benefit from Gunn IMS?
Great clinical success has been observed for most common musculoskeletal conditions in the spine or extremities. It can be effective in the relief of symptoms from chronic neck and back pain even with nerve root pain. Many conditions in the extremities that are deemed to be due to mechanical loading or repetitive strain will actually have an underlying neurological component that can be improved through Gunn IMS. To find out whether a condition can be helped through this technique a thorough physical assessment by a Gunn IMS practitioner is recommended.
Is Gunn IMS covered by my extended health benefits?
If you are found to be an appropriate candidate, Gunn IMS treatments at Priority Massage and Health 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.
Here are answers to some Frequently asked questions about IMS and Dry Needling.
More information about GunnIMS and Dry Needling Practitioners at Elevate Phsysiotherapy
Find a UBC Gunn IMS Practitioner – a worldwide directory of practitioners trained through the UBC GunnIMS program.