Do you suffer from lower back pain? Already get checked by medical professionals but turned out that your results are normal. But, you’re still in pain. There is even no sign of inflammation.

You might be looking for some ways on how to ease the pain and also the reason why it is happening. This case can be a chronic musculoskeletal or neuropathic pain. The pain occurs due to nerve irritation or nerve dysfunction. The nerves and its nerve endings become extremely sensitive and misinterpreted as painful ones.  Thus, even after comprehensive medical tests, there will be no signs of something going wrong.

The Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS) technique is among the main treatment for that kind of lower back pain. As discussed in the previous post, we have uncovered IMS in treating neck pain. And, now we will discuss, how it can treat lower back pain.

How Intramuscular Treatment Works for Treating Lower Back Pain?

IMS treatment follows a standard procedure. Prior to its application, assessment is vital in checking if the patient is a candidate for this type of treatment. This is also essential in order to assure the effectiveness of the treatment.


Before a patient undergoes an IMS treatment, a specialized assessment is done. The IMS-certified Physiotherapist will assess if the patient is the right candidate for this type of treatment. The following are applied in the assessment:

  • Autonomic nervous system tests
  • Palpation
  • Movement Screen

Intramuscular Stimulation Technique for Lower Back Pain By Physiotherapist

Treatment Process

After the assessment, if the candidate is suited for the treatment, the Physiotherapist will now apply the IMS technique.  The process involves the following:

  • Before inserting the needles, the Physiotherapist will sterilize first the area.
  • Then, the needle will be inserted into your lower back muscles that are tight
  • The needle will be manipulated as needed by slowly adding variation in terms of depth and direction – this may cause the patient to feel a cramp or twitch within their muscles.
  • The needles will be removed once the patient feels the twitch or cramp.

When it comes to twitching and cramping, these are the signs that muscles are not functioning accordingly. When needles are inserted, normal muscles don’t have this type of reaction.

Inserting the needle will create a tiny wound but this supports the blood to flow within the affected area and it stimulates the healing process. With IMS, it will help to normalize the stretch reflex.

Take in mind that tight muscles for a longer period of time can lead to lower circulation and lower levels of healthy tissue within that area. IMS can help in stimulating fresh blood cells within your lower back. This will help in removing away the excess toxins. This technique is allowing the painful muscle knot to broken up to start the healing process.

The patient will simply see the initial benefits within 3 to 4 sessions. The average sessions may take about 8 to 10 sessions.  But, if you’ve got a severe condition, it is ideal to add more sessions to experience its effectiveness. It is also recommended to take a break in between your sessions for about 1 to 2 weeks. This will help the healing of the body. This is also ideal in order to adapt to the treatment and its effects.

Is IMS Similar to Acupuncture?

We may see IMS and acupuncture as alike. As discussed before, IMS also uses the same needles for acupuncture. It also works by inserting needles into the body within the area where muscles have been contracted. When muscles are tight and contracted, you can feel the pain and the healing process is slow. IMS can help in stimulating the healing process and making the muscles relax.

IMS is ideal in treating soft tissue pain with no inflammation or signs of ongoing tissue. This is also effective especially if other types of treatments failed.

So, you might be wondering, what’s its difference from acupuncture. One thing is that acupuncture is already a part of history and can be traced back over centuries. Although they use the same type of needles, the main difference is that needles for acupuncture retain within the strategic parts of the body for a longer time frame.

Another thing is that acupuncture follows traditional Chinese medicine while IMS is a combination of Western and Eastern traditional medicine. And, IMS is suited for chronic and muscle tension.

So, if you are among those who still feel the pain even if you have undergone a regular Physiotherapy treatment, you can consider an IMS treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions with IMS

  • Does Intramuscular Stimulation treatment hurt?

As mentioned earlier, by inserting the needle in the normal muscles, you will not feel a cramp or an aching sensation. It is simply painless. However, due to shortened or tight muscles, you will definitely feel the cramps or aching sensation. Some may feel unpleasant about this. And, this is the distinct type of how shortened muscle reacted as it grasps the needle. When the needle is released, this will quickly disappear. Also, as stated above in the process this type of sensation is important to experience to achieve lasting relief.

Take in mind that each individual may have a different reaction to pain. Some may experience relief after the treatment and some may have it after a few days.

  • What I can expect after the IMS treatment?

You may experience some soreness within the applied area, but this may go away within 24 to 48 hours. But, as said earlier, different individuals may have a varying reaction to pain. You might experience soreness within a few days or you may also feel lightheaded after the treatment. But, this is treatable with cool compress application and rest.  And, what is essential is that you must only seek an IMS-certified Physiotherapist.

A comprehensive assessment is integral to this type of treatment. It plays a major role in assessing if the treatment is suitable for the patient. In this way, further complications can be avoided.

IMS is highly effective in treating musculoskeletal pain, especially with your lower back pain. This is not ideal for chronic inflammatory pain such as caused by cancer pain, rheumatoid arthritis, degenerative neurological conditions, and other metabolic neuropathies.

Also, this is not ideal if you are pregnant and for those who have undergone recent surgery.

  • How many IMS treatments will I need?

If you are an ideal candidate for IMS, the number of treatments may vary depending on several factors. It may depend on your age, general health, the extent of your condition, the severity of your condition, the number of scar tissues, and your body’s response to treatment. The healing process will also depend on the condition of your nerves. Healing for young people is quicker than older ones.

If you have just experienced the pain recently, a session may be enough but still, it will depend on your assessment results. In a published study for patients being treated with IMS for their lower back pain – the average session is 8.2.

  • How long does IMS treatment take to work?

It may take about 3-4 sessions to notice significant improvements in your symptoms. However, you may also notice improvement even after the first session especially for those who have just recently experienced their lower back pain or musculoskeletal pain. The average sessions required is about 8 to 10 sessions.

  • How long will the benefits of IMS last?

You may see the improvements even just after the first treatment. Take in mind that its effects are cumulative which means that each needle inserted will create a small injury that will stimulate the healing process. Within this process, it allows the blood to bring a healing factor within the injured tissues – and this is known as the Platelet-Derived Growth Factor.

This technique is like you are pruning a plant to stimulate or make way for new growth – with IMS you are making way for new growth as a replacement to injured tissues. Thus, once healing occurred you are now back to normal. Its main goal is to relieve your back pain and be able to do the things that you are regularly doing.

  • What will I do after the IMS treatment?

Since soreness is expected after the treatment which may typically last for about 24 to 48 hours. It is highly recommended to do the following to ease the soreness:

    • Increasing your water intake within the next 24 hours
    • Soaking within a hot bath
    • You may also avoid to workout or doing some stretches but this will depend on your comfort level
    • Avoid using ice, instead, you may use a heating pad to ease muscle soreness

Looking for a Certified Physiotherapist in Coquitlam to do the IMS treatment?

You might be looking for some natural remedies for chronic back pain. IMS can be an ideal treatment for you. We have certified physiotherapists in Coquitlam trained in handling and working with an effective IMS treatment. From assessment to identifying your trigger points, they know what is the right thing to be done.

At Evergreen Rehab and Wellness we can help you ease your pain. We are deeply committed to providing quality care to our patients.

Ready for an IMS treatment? You may book online for a certified physiotherapist in Coquitlam.

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