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Patient Education

Intramuscular Stimulation Vs. Acupuncture: Which Is The Right Option For You?

When it comes to treating chronic pain, most physiotherapists recommend acupuncture or intramuscular stimulation (IMS). And even though, most people consider these forms of treatment alike, they are distinct in their own way. Both of these modalities have their own set of advantages and disadvantages.  

Acupuncture has its origins in Chinese medicine and dates back to thousands of years. IMS uses knowledge of neurophysiology to identify and treat nerve-related problems. However, both acupuncture and IMS use thin, stainless needles. Most Acupuncture Sherwood Park Clinics offer both forms of these treatments. Hence, patients are faced with the dilemma of choosing which form of treatment is better for them. Our overview of these highly specialized treatments will help you make your decision - 

Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS)

IMS or dry needling is a modern form of treatment which is used to treat different kinds of muscular and joint pains. In a standard intramuscular stimulation session, your physiotherapist or medical practitioner inserts many thin needles into the skin. No fluid is injected or exchanged in the process, hence deriving the name dry needling. IMS needles are inserted at various trigger points depending on your ailment. These trigger points are basically knotted areas or points where tension is accumulated leading to the formation of hard muscles. Dry needling eases the tension in these points and helps in relieving pain. Commonly used techniques for IMS are the in-and-out technique and the trigger point technique. 

The benefits of this remedy are that it improves flexibility and your range of motion. It also provides relief from muscular pain and stiffness. The only side-effect of IMS therapy is temporary soreness. 


Acupuncture originated in China over 5000 years ago. According to this treatment, the body is governed by a balanced flow of chi, a form of energy present in all living organisms. Unlike IMS, acupuncture is used for treating a variety of illnesses such as a migraine, nausea, lower back pain, knee pain, and neck pain to name a few. In a usual acupuncture Sherwood Park session, your physiotherapist assesses your condition and then inserts thin, sterile, disposable needles to ease the pain. In some cases, the needles are stimulated with electricity after they are inserted for greater effect. 

Based on the severity of your condition, your physiotherapist will prescribe a definite number of acupuncture sessions. Acupuncture can be very effective depending on the skills and knowledge of your acupuncturist. 

Whether to opt for IMS or acupuncture is a matter of choice as both of these are good forms of treatment. Acupuncture Sherwood Park is an older form of treatment. Hence, there are more number of practitioners who are experienced in this field. Dry needling is a relatively new form of treatment but has proven to be quite effective. Whichever option you choose, it is important to make sure you opt for a good Edmonton physical therapy clinic for your treatment. Consult our experienced physiotherapists to know more about these treatments and select the one which ideal for your ailment.