Referred Pain: What It Is and How Chiropractic Can Help
Referred pain, also known as referral pain, is pain that is felt in a different part of the body than where the actual injury or issue is. Sometimes the source of the pain being in a different location than the pain itself makes sense, such as when pancreas dysfunction causes back pain. But other times, it seems entirely disconnected. For example, people experiencing a heart attack will often feel pain in their jaw, mouth, or left arm, even though the source of the problem is not in that area.
When experiencing referred pain, most people don’t know that’s what they are dealing with. This is why it’s important to get checked out by a chiropractor whenever you have pain. While pain is common, it’s not normal. It is typically an indication that something is amiss within the body, and it needs to be dealt with and explored to get ahead of any serious problems.
Why Does It Happen?
Each particular case of referred pain will be different from the next, especially because different root issues can cause different types of pain. But the reason that referred pain even exists is because of the complex inner workings of the nervous system. The central nervous system is made up of the brain and spinal cord, and the peripheral nervous system is made up of all the remaining nerves throughout the body.
The brain will send messages through the spinal cord, which then get dispersed to the appropriate bodily system through the peripheral nerves. These messages travel as electrical impulses, and they transport messages across many miles of nerves in order to reach the various cells, organs, and systems. In the same way, messages from the various organs and systems travel back across the nerves and into the brain. The appropriate transfer of these messages is what helps your body function well and maintain optimal health.
As you can imagine, this process is extremely complicated and intricate. While you are unaware and uninvolved in much of this process, the sensory system is one part of the process that you are privy to. Sensory neurons relate things that you experience with your senses to the rest of the body, but they often converge with other sensory receptors on the miles of nerves across which they travel. That, plus the intricacy of the nervous system, can sometimes create havoc within the sensory neurons, impacting the area and way you feel pain. This can result in issues deep within your body causing pain in a more surface-level area, bringing about referred pain.
Another aspect of referred pain deals with spinal misalignments. If a vertebra is out of place, it puts pressure on nearby nerves that can cause pain and dysfunction in the area of the body that they connect to. For example, a misalignment in the fifth and sixth cervical vertebrae can cause vision problems, a misalignment in the middle (thoracic) spine can cause asthma, and a misalignment in the lower (sacral) spine can lead to digestive troubles and reproductive issues. The spinal cord is the information highway across all the messages travel, and it is connected to every single organ, system, and process that takes place within the body. So even if it feels like your leg numbness is unrelated to the lower back you’re feeling, we promise it’s not.
Contact Greater Life Chiropractic
If you’re dealing with pain of any kind, particularly if it doesn’t seem to make sense to you, contact Dr. Grant Lisetor and his team at Greater Life Chiropractic. They will schedule a consultation for you and walk you through the science behind chiropractic, as well as explain all the benefits.