Referred Pain

Referred pain can account for the reason why many people who are in pain never seem to improve. Most patients who suffer from referred pain are experiencing some sort of back pain. Others will experience pain in some other areas of the body like the stomach or lower bowel area. Usually these patients have received several different types of treatment to this site of pain with little to no improvement. The reason that improvement has not come is because the cause of the pain is located in a different area than the site of pain. Referred pain occurs when an organ is sick and sends its pain to an area where we can feel it. Where did this all begin?

At conception (when the sperm met the egg) two cells were initially joined together. These two cells split and became four cells, then four cells split and became eight cells. This process continued until there was a mass of cells about the size of a golf ball. As this mass of cells continued to multiply another process was beginning to occur. That process is called differentiation. Differentiation means that these cells were being assigned different body parts to grow into. Imagine this golf ball sized mass divided into four equal sections. The first section was assigned body parts like the left arm, the left side of the jaw, and the heart. The next section was assigned the gallbladder and the right shoulder. This process occurred until all the body parts were accounted for.

For this reason certain diseases and certain areas of pain go together. If for example, a person is having a heart attack where do they experience pain? They usually experience pain down the left arm, and along the left side of the jaw. What does the left arm, the left side of the jaw, and the heart have in common? They were formed from the same group of cells in the uterus. Because of this they are still connected even after someone is fully grown. Likewise the right shoulder and the gallbladder were connected as well. This is why someone experiences pain in the right shoulder when their gallbladder is acting up. These are just two examples of how pain is referred from an organ that is ill to an area that is not.

Let's say that your kidney begins to malfunction. What happens next? Because we were not created with the ability to feel pain in our organs you never wake up in the morning and say; “my kidney hurts today.” But our kidneys do have the ability to refer this pain to an area where we can feel pain. This area is usually a spot that shares the same nerve supply as the kidney. You won’t feel pain in the kidney, but you will feel pain in the muscles of the back because these muscles are supplied by the same nerve. For this reason  back pain that does not respond to chiropractic adjustments may be related to referred pain.  Patients who always have the need for an adjustment, massage, etc. can often times be experiencing the results of referred pain.

The patient who frequents the chiropractic office week after week or month after month for the same recurring pain is most likely just treating the symptoms. Although the adjustment feels good for a while, this pain will continue to reoccur until you deal with the cause.