Many people who suffer from chronic pain become frustrated and depressed when their Doctor cannot help. Some try medications and physical therapies, such as massage, physiotherapy, manipulations, even surgery and do not find lasting relief.

Read on to understand chronic pain can occur, even when there is no injury or inflammation and for a description of a scientifically proven method of diagnosing and treating it.

What is Intramuscular Stimulation (GunnIMS)?

Dr Chan Gunn

Dr Chan Gunn

Intramuscular Stimulation (GunnIMS) is an effective treatment for chronic pain of neuropathic origin.

Dr Chan Gunn developed GunnIMS while he was a clinical physician at the Workers Compensation Board of British Columbia. Dr Gunn is a clinical professor and teaches GunnIMS at Universities around the world.

Although GunnIMS uses implements adapted from traditional acupuncture, it is based on scientific, neurophysiological principles. The acupuncture needle used is very thin. You may not even feel it penetrating the skin of normal muscles. However, if your muscle is supersensitive and shortened, you will feel a peculiar sensation like a muscle cramp. This is a distinctive type of discomfort caused by the muscle grasping the needle. Patients soon learn to recognise and welcome this sensation. They call it "good" or positive pain, because it soon disappears and is followed by a wonderful feeling of relief and relaxation. The needle may still be in you, but because the muscle is no longer tight, you no longer feel it. What has happened is that the needling has caused your abnormal muscle shortening to intensify and then release it.  It is important that you experience this sensation in order to gain lasting relief.

Neuropathy or what happens when nerves start to go wrong

Doctors usually have no difficulty in treating pain caused by injury or inflammation, but they are often perplexed by pain that shows no sign of tissue damage or inflammation - headaches, whiplash, backache, tennis elbow or frozen shoulder are examples.

This type of pain, known as neuropathic pain, typically occurs when nerves malfunction following minor irritation. Nerves and nerve endings become extremely sensitive and cause innocent, harmless signals to be exaggerated  and incorrectly perceived as painful ones. (This characteristic is known medically as supersensitivity) The result is pain, even when extensive medical tests show there is nothing wrong. Until recently, supersensitivity has received little attention in medical circles.

The Effects of GunnIMS

The effects of GunnIMS are cumulative - needling stimulates a certain amount of healing, until eventually, the condition is healed  and the pain disappears. Some patients treated with GunnIMS have remained pain-free for 20 years.

Frequency of Treatments

Treatments are usually once per week to allow time between treatments for the body to heal itself. The number of treatments you require will depend on several factors such as duration and extent of your condition, how much scar tissue there is ( usually increased after previous surgery) and how quickly your body can heal. The rate of healing depends on the condition of your nerves  ( young people heal more quickly)  If the pain is of recent origin, one treatment may be all that is necessary. In published studies of patients with low back pain, the average number of treatments required was 8.

Treating Neuropathic Pain

Supersensitivity and muscle shortening  cannot be operated on and "cut away".  Painkillers and other analgesic pills only mask the pain. The goal of GunnIMS treatment is to release muscle shortening which presses on and irritates the nerve. Supersensitive areas can be desensitised and the persistent pull of shortened muscles released.

The Shortened Muscle Syndrome

An important factor in neuropathic pain is muscle shortening, caused by muscle spasm and contraction. Muscle shortening produces pain by pulling on tendons, strain them as well as distressing the joints they move. Muscle shortening also increases wear and tear and contributes to degenerative changes such as tendinitis and osteoarthritis. These conditions are customarily regarded as local conditions and may not receive appropriate diagnosis or treatment.

Involvement of the Spine

The most common cause of nerve irritation and neuropathic pain is spondylosis, or degeneration in the spine, which can be the result of normal wear and tear.  Spondylosis irritates the nerve root and leads to neuropathy and muscle shortening.

When muscles across a disc shorten, they compress it and cause arthralgia in the facet joints. Shortened back muscles compress the disc and impinge on the nerve root . The irritated root shortens muscles in both rami causing further irritation.