Saturday, May 22, 2010

What Is Referred Pain?


Have you been experiencing muscular pain that just doesn't seem to go away? Have you tried getting massage, but it just doesn't seem to help? And have you asked yourself what else you can do to make the pain go away?

It may be that you're experiencing a phenomenon known as "referred pain." Because of the way we humans are built, it is not uncommon for this kind of thing to happen.

Referred pain happens when you have a trigger point--a hyper-irritable, tight area of muscle that's deprived of oxygen and nutrients--that causes pain sensations to run along the nerve away from the trigger point. Sometimes this pain can be experienced quite far away in areas you wouldn't think are related. But our bodies are designed in such a way that our nerves run along, around, over, under and sometimes right through the middle of our muscles. It's possible for tight muscles to impinge, or squeeze, certain nerves and cause not only pain, but numbness, tingling, even weakness or difficulty controlling the muscle. Some trigger points can even cause symptoms like nausea and dizziness.

This is why many people that are diagnosed with what the doctor refers to as Carpel Tunnel Syndrome, but surgery or other allopathic treatments haven't been effective and it may, in fact, be the brachial nerve being impinged by the scalene muscles in the neck that are causing Carpel Tunnel-like symptoms in the arm and hand. It's why you may be experiencing what you think is sciatica (nerve compression due to a bulging vertebral disk) with pain radiating down your leg, when it may actually be nerve compression due to a tight piriformis muscle.

Low back pain can be caused by many things including poor posture, arthritis, spinal disease such as a ruptured or bulging disk, or it may be a muscular problem due to postural distortions like scoliosis or work habits, such as sitting at a desk all day. But just because you're experiencing low back pain doesn't mean the muscles you think are causing the problem are actually the real cause. It may be referred pain due to other muscles. For example, many people who feel pain in the low back automatically--and understandably--think it's being caused by weak or tight quadratus lumborum (a.k.a. "the QLs") muscles, the muscles that attach to your lumbar spine, 12th rib and posterior iliac crest. But the iliopsoas muscle--which attaches on the anterior side of your spine and runs down to your femur--is a known culprit for causing low back pain. So if you've been trying to fix it with massage, but the massage therapist is only working on your QLs, perhaps it's time to suggest they work on your psoas*. (*Note: Working on the psoas involves the massage therapist going deep through your abdomen. It may feel quite uncomfortable, such as bad menstrual cramps, especially if your psoas has never been worked before.)

If you're experiencing pain that you have not been able to get rid of, talk to your doctor and call me. Perhaps working together, your doctor and I can figure out the real cause of your chronic pain and help you eliminate it. Visit my Web site at www.amypriormassage.com for my contact information.

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