• IMS/Dry Needling

What is Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS)?

Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS) is a comprehensive system for the diagnosis and treatment of myofascial pain. IMS is grounded in modern Medical Science, and has a solid foundation in its neuropathic model of pain, which is now supported by latest research on chronic pain.

The goal of treatment is to release tight muscles, which press on and irritate nerves, tendons and joints.. Super-sensitive areas can be desensitized, and the persistent pull of shortened muscles can be released. IMS, in effect, treats the underlying neuropathic condition that causes the pain. When competently performed, IMS has a remarkable success rate, as proven by the amelioration of symptoms and signs, even for chronic back pain with root signs.

IMS relies on a thorough physical examination of the patient by a competent practitioner, trained to recognize musculoskeletal dysfunctions and signs of neuropathic pain. The treatment involves dry needling of affected areas of the body with very thin Acupuncture needles. The needle sites can be at tight muscle bands, or they can be near the spine where the nerve root may have become compressed and irritated. Needle penetration is painless; however, a shortened, super-sensitive muscle will ‘grasp’ the needle in what can be described as a cramping sensation. The needling and subsequent muscle response allows the muscle to relax and restores normal nerve function. Additionally, the treatment triggers repair response in the needled tissue, allowing healing to occur.

What is Acupuncture? 

Acupuncture is an insertion of needles into the skin at specific points on the body to achieve a therapeutic effect without any medication. The insertion is normally painless and the ultra-fine acupuncture needles are unlikely to cause any damage to underlying tissues when performed by a skilled practitioner.

Acupuncture needles induce a chain of events that results in the release into various parts of the nervous system of neurotransmitters and neurohormones, and which can have widespread physiological influences. The needling produces reduction in pain, inflammation and muscle spasm. Additionally some acupuncture points assist with relaxation, mood and overall feel of well-being.

The needles are inserted for 15-20 minutes and may be manipulated by the practitioner to achieve a stronger effect. In some cases acupuncture needles will be withdrawn immediately or left for a longer time period. The treatment is usually pain free, although some aching and/or numbness around inserted needles occasionally occurs.

Dry Needling treatments are performed within the scope of Physiotherapy and by Physiotherapists who are certified and have passed theoretical and practical examinations set by Acupuncture Foundation of Canada Institute. Acupuncture use by physiotherapists is regulated by College of Physical Therapists of British Columbia.

Our Port Coquitlam Acupuncture clinic uses disposable single-use needles only.

Conditions Acupuncture Helps

  • Low Back and Neck Pain of Diskogenic, Myofascial or Neurogenic Origin
  • Rheumatoid Diseases
  • Headaches including Cervicogenic,Tension and Migraines
  • Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue
  • Whiplash
  • Tendinopathies
  • Sciatica
  • Rotator Cuff Disorders


For those who are unable or unwilling to go through needling process, our Port Coquitlam clinic is equipped with an electro-acupuncture device. Electro-acupuncture allows stimulation of acupuncture points without penetration of the skin by needles. This treatment is an effective way to enjoy the benefits of acupuncture for those who are afraid of needles or can not receive acupuncture due to medical reason(i.e. severe coagulation problems). This treatment also works well on trigger points, imitating dry-needling procedures.


Is IMS painful?

Most patients who experienced IMS would agree that it is not “pleasant” and can be quite intense. However, the treatment is fairly short and post-treatment soreness is usually very mild. The benefits from treatment easily outweigh any temporary discomfort; it is extremely rare that the patient would not agree to perform subsequent IMS sessions.

How many treatments would I need?

Most patients get full benefit within 6-12 sessions. It is not uncommon to achieve complete resolution of symptoms within 1-2 treatments as well.

Should IMS be combined with other treatments?

IMS often works the best as stand alone modality. However it must be noted that in order to make sure that symptoms don’t come back, rehabilitation exercise program should be initiated.

Is there additional charge for IMS treatment?

No. Regular Physiotherapy fees apply.

Is it better than Acupuncture?

No. They are different. Acupuncture works on hormonal balance and helps to reduce pain and inflammation in the entire body. It also has general relaxation and well-being effect. From our clinical experience Acupuncture works very well in states of acute pain or ongoing inflammation. IMS is a treatment for chronic pain and muscle dysfunction.


If you have any other questions about IMS or Acupuncture, please contact  our Port Coquitlam, Vancouver, Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge, Burquitlam  or Port Moody locations.

Coast Therapy is an award-winning provider of Massage Therapy & Physiotherapy services to Port Coquitlam, East Vancouver, Port Moody, Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge and Coquitlam residents for over 16 years.

We offer extensive experience in manual therapy and active care for complex sport & injury rehabilitation, prenatal & post-partum care, medical conditions, chronic pain, and general wellness concerns. Our therapists are experts in helping you achieve long-lasting pain relief and functional improvement.