I have always been intrigued by Chinese medicine and the energy flow through the body (known as meridians) and jumped at the opportunity to take my first acupuncture course in 1997.
Acupuncture is believed to have originated around 2500 years ago in China and has been a major part of Chinese medicine, used to promote well-being and to treat many medical conditions. Acupuncture is thought to open the energy (Chi) channels that run through the body, unblocking stagnant areas and therefore providing optimal conditions for your body to heal itself.
Fine, sterile needles penetrate the skin easily, and are left in situ for around 15-20 mins and may be stimulated by twisting the needle. Benefits include endorphin release, increased circulation and relief of muscle spasm. Acupuncture is a comfortable and relaxing treatment, and works in about 80% of people. Most patients notice some improvement within a couple of sessions, and there is a cumulative effect, with each treatment building on the one before. You should therefore be prepared to try 4 sessions before you discount acupuncture as not working for you.
Physiotherapists are licensed to use acupuncture within the scope of their physiotherapy practice, in my case for the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions such as strains and sprains, myofascial pain, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, tendinitis, nerve pain, neck and back pain, sciatica, headaches and migraines, TMJ and Bell’s Palsy, as well as post-operative pain, chronic pain and chronic regional pain syndrome (CRPS)
In the last 20 years, I have had a great deal of success using acupuncture to complement my physiotherapy skills, providing relief of pain and muscle spasm to allow me to move forwards with mobilizing tight soft tissues, stiff joints and exercise to rehabilitate full function.
IMS is another needling technique using slightly thicker needles to release short tight muscles that can compress joints and nerves, and therefore provoke and sustain pain for long periods of time.
Sterile needles are inserted into shortened, tight muscles, causing a relaxation effect, providing relief of pain and stimulating blood flow to aid in healing. The nerve and surrounding tissues become desensitized. The initial sensation can be a cramping feeling as the muscle grips on to the needle, followed by a feeling of release. There may be some short-lasting muscle soreness (similar in sensation to after a gym workout), but the feeling of release is immediate.
It may take a few sessions to get long lasting relief, as muscle memory can cause the muscles to tighten again; usually the benefit from treatment is cumulative and treatments can be spaced out after the first 2 weeks.
I have used IMS since 2005, when I was privileged to attend a course taught by Chan Gunn himself (the inventor of IMS) and was immediately inspired to use his knowledge and great teaching to the benefit of my patients in treating chronic pain and many other pain presentations. These include, but are not limited to: –
- Tendinitis – including Achilles Tendinitis and Tennis / Golfers Elbow
- Headaches and TMJ
- Neck, upper and lower back pain
- Frozen Shoulder
- Myofascial pain
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Piriformis syndrome
- Joint pain
Further information on IMS can be found on Chan Gunn’s website