This website is under development - The information contained on this site is for guidance only and is not intended for self diagnosis or self treatment. This will not replace professional medical advice or consultation. Always seek the professional advice of a qualified health care provider like your doctor or specialist before embarking on any treatment. If you have a problem please consult your doctor or specialist.
What is it?
In some instances, one may “feel” pain in an area where there is no damage or problem. This is called ‘referred pain’ and it simply means that although pain is felt in this area, the source of the pain is actually elsewhere i.e. the pain is referred to that area.
It is such a difficult concept for the mind to accept as one would be very convinced that there is “clearly” a problem in the area where it hurts.
For example, it is very typical for patients to present with pain over the biceps muscle or over insertion of deltoid muscle in the upper arm when they actually have a problem in their shoulder.
Another example of referred pain is experiencing discomfort and symptoms in the shoulder or the arm when the nerve in the neck is compressed.
How does this happen?
The simplistic view of referred pain is due of the way the different areas are represented in the brain. Sensitive areas like finger tips or tongue are well represented in the brain and one can pin point any type of stimulus very accurately. However, if the are is not well represented, then one can only ‘vaguely’ locate the area in question.
Often multiple low sensitive areas are represented together on one location in brain and therefore, one can misread the signals and locate the pain elsewhere.
The second reason why one may misinterpret pain in a different place is because the damage may occur along the nerve tract that takes the pain to the brain well away from the area in question. Again due to poor representation, one can misinterpret the level and area of pain.
When one gets a disc prolapse in the neck which compresses the nerve(s), one may experience pain not only in the neck but also any where in the arm. It is not atypical for a person to feel pain radiating along the arm. Not too infrequently, there may be NO neck pain at all and therefore one may not associate the arm pain to the neck condition. Some times even treatment (like an injections) can be directed to the area where the pain is felt.
A careful examination may allow one to distinguish between the conditions.