If you happen to experience referred pain, chances are you’ll feel painful sensations in areas that aren’t injured.
When broken all the way down to probably the most minute level, the human body is endlessly complex. The typical human adult is made up of trillions of cells, to the purpose that attempting to count each cell individually would take 1000’s of years. Several trillion cells are dedicated solely to the transfer of chemical information and electrical impulses: neurons.
Together, neurons serve to perform a wide range of unconscious and conscious tasks, from keeping your heart beating to facilitating the mechanisms of motion for memory recall, complex problem solving, and the perception and processing of stimuli, similar to pain.
But not all pain is the results of a straightforward cause-and-effect. Signals get mixed up. Nerves, the knowledge highways of the human body, will be damaged. Some pain is imagined to be much greater than its cause. Some pain may even be felt in parts of your body that aren’t damaged or affected in any respect, because of the best way your nervous system functions. This is known as referred pain.
What’s Referred Pain?
Referred pain is pain felt anywhere outside of the particular point of origin for that sensation.
Certain heart attack pain is often felt as a type of referred pain. A patient experiencing a heart attack might also experience intense pain within the jaw, teeth, shoulders, and arm.
Phantom pain can be one other common type of such a pain. When an individual experiences phantom pain, they’re experiencing sensations of pain in limbs or body parts which can be now not attached to them, often shortly after an amputation. Some types of this painful sensation are psychosomatic. Other types of this pain function telltale signs for specific health problems, similar to shoulder pain related to a ruptured spleen, or a brain freeze, which is triggered by a nerve near your throat.
It will be important to tell apart between referred pain, radiating pain, and multiple points of localized pain.
In cases of radiating pain, a painful sensation spreads from the purpose of origin to other parts of the body. Nonetheless, radiating pain can still be “traced back” to a degree of origin. This features a pinched nerve within the spine, which can cause radiating pain throughout the parts of the body attached to that nerve. A swollen disc or pinched nerve within the upper back could cause a selection of pain throughout the neck, shoulder, and arm, for instance.
Localized pain is pain felt where the origin of the stimuli is found, similar to a burn wound or a bruise. You possibly can feel multiple different types of pain without delay, because of different injuries or conditions.
How Does Referred Pain Work?
Referred pain occurs since the body’s nervous system is interconnected. Your brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves function together. While the body does a tremendously good job of compartmentalizing lots of its tasks and functions, mishaps can occur. Exactly how and why these mishaps occur is as of yet not fully understood. While referred pain has been consistently identified and described in medical literature for the reason that 19th century, there are multiple potential reasons for it, and no official definition.
Sometimes, a signal sent from an injury to the brain and back to the injury site is distributed the fallacious way, landing elsewhere. Sometimes, hardwired connections between different points throughout the body cause an individual to feel extreme pain in an otherwise unrelated body part. In some cases, this pain could also be attributable to damaged nerves (neuropathy).
Not all cases of referred pain are the results of the identical phenomenon – there are different reasons such a pain can occur.
Examples of Referred Pain
In the pinnacle, probably the most relatable type of referred pain is the brain freeze. That is an intense and short-lived headache, attributable to the rapid cooling and rewarming of the sinus when eating cold foods, similar to ice cream. The feeling travels through the vagus nerve or the trigeminal nerve of the pinnacle and throat, yet causes pain within the upper scalp and brain. Pain within the jaw is common in heart attacks, in addition to painful teeth.
Tension headaches are one other common type of such a pain. In a tension headache, stress within the neck and shoulders may end up in pain in the pinnacle. The other is true for a migraine – despite originating in the pinnacle, migraine episodes also can cause referred pain through the shoulders and even the arms.
Referred shoulder pain is common in consequence of heart disease, liver damage, and even damage to the diaphragm. While the precise mechanism of motion will not be fully understood, certain visceral pain (organ pain) will be traced to referred pain within the extremities, especially the shoulders and arms. Sharp pain within the shoulder might also be an indication of a ruptured spleen.
Referred back pain will be results of a kidney stone, colon disease, or bladder infection. Kidney stones are also strongly related to sharp pain in the perimeters, below the ribs.
Referred abdominal pain – intense stomach cramps and side pains – will be attributable to gallbladder problems or intestinal diseases. Hip pain is common in cases of prostate damage, or ovarian conditions, similar to cysts or endometriosis.
Is It Referred Pain or Localized Pain?
Differentiating between referred pain and isolated examples of localized pain is vital. Treatment to the purpose of origin may help reduce this pain as well, but when there are multiple causes of pain, then different treatments may apply. Similarly, attempting to treat pain without identifying the purpose of origin may not lead to any significant pain relief.
A diagnosis for referred pain may include:
Treating Referred Pain
Treatments for referred pain require that your physician identifies the explanation for your pain first. From there, treatments may differ depending on the explanation for the pain.
If it’s an underlying condition, similar to a kidney stone, then depending on the scale and severity of the stones, your doctor may simply offer advice to assist pass the stone (similar to drinking more water) and over-the-counter painkillers.
If the explanation for the pain is a damaged or malfunctioning nerve, then different interventions could also be utilized to discover the purpose of origin (similar to nerve stimulation and temporary nerve blocks), and apply an appropriate treatment, similar to targeted nerve ablation.
If you happen to consider you’re experiencing referred pain, visit a pain specialist or physician immediately.
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