Gunn IMS is a needling technique that was developed by Dr. Chan Gunn for the treatment of neuropathic pain. Neuropathic pain occurs whenever there is pressure on a nerve root or the nerve pathway as it courses through the limb. The most common cause of pressure on nerve roots is degenerative changes in the spine. We know that whenever there is pressure on a nerve root or nerve, the muscles that are supplied by that nerve can become tight. Tight muscles ache, are tender to touch and cause tension on tendons and compression on joints.
Dr. Gunn worked for the Workers Compensation Board in Vancouver in the 1970s and he saw many patients with chronic pain and he wasn’t satisfied with the results from physiotherapy, acupuncture, chiropractic and massage. Back then, Dr. Gunn was injecting novocaine to the trigger points of muscles. Sometimes Dr. Gunn would put the needle into the muscle, the patient would get a twitch and then report that things were better even though Dr. Gunn hadn’t injected the novocaine yet.
Dr. Gunn went back to the textbooks and developed a theory for neuropathic pain and developed an assessment and treatment for it. Gunn IMS is not a fly by night treatment. Dr. Gunn won the Order of BC and then the Order of Canada for his work in 2002 and 2003 respectively. There are physiotherapists and doctors across Canada and around the world who use his technique.
How Does it Work?
As mentioned above, we know with Dr. Gunn’s research that pressure on a nerve root or nerves keeps the muscles it supplies tight. These tight muscles will then put pressure on the nerve and pull on tendons and joints. To break the cycle, a Gunn IMS trained practitioner, will insert a needle into the tight bands within a muscle to get the muscle to contract and then ultimately relax through a reflex reaction. The release of the muscle takes pressure off the nerve(s) and allows the nervous system to settle down. The insertion of the needle also causes minor inflammation which promotes healing as it resets the nervous system.
How Effective is it?
In my experience, a patient will see noticeable results within 4 treatments. Patients typically report longer lasting and better results with IMS than with other treatments. It is not uncommon for a patient to see a 20-50% reduction of pain after only one visit. In addition to the reduction of pain, many patients report better joint mobility. When it works, it works well.
What are the Conditions that Gunn IMS can be used for?
Some of the more common conditions that Gunn IMS can be used for include:
- Joint pain
- TMJ disorders
- Compression of Nerve Roots
- Chronic Pain
- Disc Injuries
- Degenerative Changes in The Spine
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Peripheral Nerve Entrapments
What are the Risks?
The risks are the same as for acupuncture and include:
- The risk of infection – this is almost nil. A sterile, disposable needle or needles are used. They are used only on the patient being treated and then they are thrown away.
- The risk of puncturing a lung – there are some areas that are very risky but a properly trained Gunn IMS practitioner will know where is risky and how to be safe.
- A bruise – sometimes a small vessel under the skin gets pierced, it may or may not cause a bruise and if there is a bruise, it is a cosmetic issue not a medical one.
Will this be Covered Under my Insurance?
Yes, it will be covered under your coverage for physiotherapy.
Please visit our service page for more information about Gunn IMS or contact us to book an appointment. Be sure to ask to see one of our Certified GUNN IMS physiotherapists and say goodbye to your pain!
Written By: Suzie Foreman, Registered Physiotherapist