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Understanding the Phenomenon of Referred Pain

Last updated 6 years ago

Referred pain can be a confusing phenomenon, as it involves pain which originates in one area of the body, but is felt in another. There are many theories regarding the mechanism that causes referred pain, but no definitive conclusions. Chronic referred pain can be caused by a spinal disorder and is generally associated with myofascial pain syndrome.

What Causes Referred Pain?

Myofascial pain syndrome is generally caused by repeated contractions of the muscles. These muscle contractions can be caused by the repetitive motions used in certain activities, such as painting, or due to stress. Sensitive areas can also develop after an injury. These sensitive areas can become trigger points which produce referred pain throughout the body. Oftentimes, referred pain is chronic and becomes more severe over time.

What are the Symptoms?

Chronic aches, pain, and muscle tenderness are all signs of myofascial pain syndrome. If pain persists or worsens after rest, massage, and basic home care, you may have developed trigger points. If left untreated, the resulting pain can lead to sleep problems and other health conditions, including fibromyalgia.

How is it Treated?

Several treatments are available for referred pain which can be used alone or in various combinations. Medical treatments include pain relievers, antidepressants, and sedatives. Medications to regulate sleep may also be used, but are generally not long-term solutions since they can be habit-forming. Physical therapy is another treatment option and can include stretching, massage, heat, and ultrasound therapy to increase circulation and relieve tension. You may also want to consider anti-inflammatory or numbing injections at the trigger point to relieve the referred pain. Acupuncture is another treatment option and can be used to reduce tension in the trigger points.

If you are suffering from chronic pain, consider visiting a back specialist. At SpineOne, we offer a variety of treatments, including physical therapy, chiropractic, and massage. Call us today at (303) 367-2225 to learn more about referred pain or to schedule a treatment consultation.


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