Gunn IMS & Neuropathic Pain

Gunn Intramuscular Stimulation at Lake Country Physiotherapy

What is Gunn IMS?

Do you suffer from joint and muscle pain or have a limited range of motion due to a chronic pain condition? Does your pain persist no matter what you do? There are several treatments available to you here at Lake Country Physiotherapy, and Gunn IMS is one that may be successful in treating your pain problem.

Gunn IMS, or intramuscular stimulation, is grounded in Western Medical Science. This treatment approach is based on a “neuropathic model of musculoskeletal dysfunction developed by Dr. C. Chan Gunn.” IMS treatment involves dry needling of affected areas of the body (using a sterile acupuncture needle) without injecting any substance. 

Contact our office today for more information about Gunn IMS treatment and how it can decrease your pain levels and restore your range of motion.

What To Expect With IMS

With certain types of treatment in the physiotherapy world, there is a good bit of hearsay about what is and isn’t considered painful in terms of treatment options. With IMS treatment, penetration of a normal muscle is virtually painless; however, a shortened, hypersensitive muscle will ‘grasp’ the needle in what can be described as a cramping sensation.  

The result is threefold: one, a stretch receptor in the muscle is stimulated, producing a reflex relaxation (lengthening); two, the needle also causes a small injury that draws blood to the area, initiating the natural healing process via platelet-derived growth factor; three, the treatment creates an electrical potential in the muscle to make the nerve function normally again.

It may sound intimidating to read about, however, rest assured that our physiotherapists at Lake Country Physiotherapy are highly trained in the use of IMS treatment to relieve persistent myofascial pain conditions. 

What Pain Conditions Can IMS Treat?

IMS through dry needling has a solid foundation in its radiculopathic model of pain, which is now supported by a growing body of research and experts in the field of pain management. According to ChoosePT, “preliminary research supports that dry needling improves pain control, reduces muscle tension, and normalizes dysfunctions of the motor end plates, the sites at which nerve impulses are transmitted to muscles.” This can help speed up a patient’s recovery time and allow them to resume doing the activities they love.

A few conditions that IMS can treat are as follows:

  • Frozen shoulder
  • Whiplash (for example, as a result of an auto accident)
  • Back pain
  • Tennis elbow
  • Headaches
  • Chronic pain
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Muscle and joint stiffness

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The three distinct categories of pain: Nociception, Inflammation, and Neuropathy.


The immediate response conveyed to the brain, signaling tissue injury (noxious input). An example is the response from a slap to the skin.


A local response to cellular injury resulting in redness, swelling, heat, pain and sometimes loss of function, and that serves as a mechanism initiating the elimination of noxious agents and facilitating the healing process.

Neuropathy or Radiculopathic Pain:

Ongoing pain with no obvious signs caused by a malfunction in the peripheral nervous system, leading to supersensitivity in the pain sensory system.

Neuropathy is a relatively new word, specifically referring to any functional disturbances or pathological changes in the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS); though it is often used incorrectly to describe the nervous system as a whole. It is imperative to distinguish these entities as separate, since they show different outcomes and presentations. The CNS is well-protected by the skull and the spine, unlike the often overlooked PNS, which is much more vulnerable to damage and denotes the greatest number of chronic pain cases.

Medical professionals are apt to treat pain in the first two categories, but are perplexed by pain that shows no sign of tissue damage or inflammation. Long-term pain can exist in ongoing nociception/inflammation such as a fracture or rheumatoid arthritis (treated with surgery or anti-inflammatory drugs), a psychogenic disorder such as clinical depression (treated with medication or counseling), or most commonly neuropathic pain (explained further below). Neuropathic pain has several indicators:

  • There is pain in the absence of ongoing tissue damage.
  • There is a delay in the onset of pain after a precipitating injury.
  • Mild stimuli are very painful.
  • There may be a stabbing component.
  • Pronounced summation and after-reaction from stimuli (ie. the pain gets worse with exercise).

This explains why you might feel fine immediately following a car accident, but a week later complain of whiplash. The most common cause of neuropathy is everyday wear and tear or overuse. The significance of this discovery is that disorders such as low back pain, whiplash, frozen shoulder, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, and Achilles tendinopathy are all physiologically the same.

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