Pain Evaluation Can Be Tricky

Most of the people that come to see us at ProActive Spine Care start off wanting some help with pain of some kind.  Neck pain relief, back pain relief, headache relief, help with sciatic or leg pain are just a few of the common pain problems we see.  However, people are sometimes surprised to find out that the problem causing the pain is NOT where they are feeling the pain. 


The answer lies within the nervous system itself.  The facts that the nervous system interprets signals and sensations received throughout the body.  An some of these signals are interpreted incorrectly – in kind of a mixed up way.   

There are several neurological mechanism reasons for this, but perhaps the most common is called referred pain.  In referred pain, the area where the actual problem is may have shared neurological connections with another area, and this created a mechanism for the confusion of the pain perception.  

Probably the most recognized example of this is pain that is often experienced from a heart attack (myocardial infarction).  Most people know that pain from a heart attach can manifest as left arm pain, mid back pain, neck pain, or jaw pain.  The really problem is in the heart, but pain is felt in another area. 

The same is true of many musculoskeletal conditions. Neck problems can be felt in the shoulder, arm, or mid back.  Low back problems can be felt in the groin, thigh, or leg.  Muscle problems can refer pain outside of the actual muscle, such as with trigger points, and ligaments can react the same way (sclerotogenous pain referral).  Discs and spinal joint (facet) problems can also refer pain to other body areas.

A provider who is knowledgeable and experienced in evaluating these tricky pain patterns improves the chance of receiving an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment. 

In order to understand the actual cause of pain, and how best to direct treatment for relief and recovery, a skilled examination is required.  Only then can the real pain problem really be understood and managed. And, yes, sometimes treatment needs to be provided outside the area where pain seems to be. 

If you are having pain, give us a call at 253-564-1288 for a proper examination and modern treatment.  WE are you Tacoma chiropractor, University Place chiropractor, and Fircrest chiropractor. 

Austin McMillin Chiropractor

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