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Mindful March: "Acupuncture and IMS - how it can help!" by Saqib Niaz

This #MindfulMarch, we're focusing on aligning the mind and the body to ensure optimal and overall health. At Royal City Physio, we offer acupuncture and one of our physiotherapists, Saqib Niaz, composed this article as a part of our 'Healthy Reading' library to introduce clients to acupuncture and explain why it might just be a great option to help you #keepmoving.

"Acupuncture and IMS - how it can help!"

To those who don't know me, my name is Saqib Niaz and I have been a physiotherapist for close to four and a half years now. I graduated 2012 with a Masters in Physical Therapy from the University of British Columbia. I have been certified in Acupuncture for about two years, with a full year of training prior to certification, and certified in concussion management over a year now. Through this little write up I'll hopefully shed some light on any questions that may have arisen and touch on the different types of acupuncture/dry needling/IMS.

I often get asked a lot by patients:

  • Why acupuncture?

  • How does it work?

  • Does it hurt?

To begin, there is the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) form of acupuncture and there is also a western version. The TCM version has been around for at least 2500 years now, and it is based on energy flow in the body (Qi, pronounced "chee") that are essential to health. Disruptions in the flow are believed to be responsible for disorder/disease in the human body. The locations of these points are predetermined spots close to the skin. Releasing the energy that has been disrupted is how the TCM acupuncture style works.

The western medicine model uses anatomy, physiology and current medical models alongside a full diagnostic scan by a therapist. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence in the United Kingdom now recognizes that acupuncture works. They have recommended it for migraine, tension headaches, and lower back pain amongst other issues.

With regards to pain, it is a minor, fleeting discomfort that may occur in certain points (more so towards to fingers and toes as our bodies are more sensitive there). I often describe it as the tiniest elastic band making contact with your skin for a millisecond. After this, there may be a heavy, dull, achy sensation that will arise; this sensation is the "Qi".

Acupuncture primarily deals with pain. In the therapy world we often see patients with muscle spasms, muscle tightness, and increased tone (for example, tennis elbow, and those who have "put their back out"). For those patients there is a different form, referred to as dry needling, and sometimes IMS (intra-muscular stimulation. This version involves needling of a muscle's trigger point with injecting any substance. Needling of this trigger point often times causes a muscle twitch/activation of the fibres. This creates a local inflammatory process which promotes healing by stimulating collagen and protein formation. The rest of the day should be spent with the most gentle of stretches, heat, and ice as preferred by the patient.

There are many other factors that must be taken into consideration before any type of needling can occur. Feel free to drop by the clinic anytime and ask me about it or any other questions you may have. I'll do my best to explain in person!

Sincerely, Your friendly neighbourhood Physio,


Share your thoughts about Saqib's article or let us know you've read it by using the hashtag #MINDFULMARCH or #keepmoving.

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