What we’ll cover
  1. What is referred pain?
  2. Why does referred pain occur?
  3. How do I treat referred pain?
  4. Can physiotherapy help referred pain?

Referred pain – physiotherapy can help

Have you experienced sciatica ?  Headache that has been originating from the neck or shoulders?  All these are examples of what we commonly call referred pain.

referred pain

What is referred pain?

Referred pain refers to pain that is felt in other areas of the body other than the source.  Common instances include sciatic pain in which pain is originating from the nerves around the low back.  However, it can result in referred pain with sharp or shooting pain into the bottom, thigh or down the leg.

The same phenomenon does not just occur with musculoskeletal conditions.  Bodily organs can also create referred pain.  For example, heart attack or cardiac issues can cause pain in the left arm or left side of the jaw.

Why does referred pain occur?

Although referred pain can be common, the exact science behind referred pain is not fully understood.  The most common theory is that nerves that are not directly affected become stimulated.  Nerves around the body all converge at some point around the spinal cord.  Various nerves around the body all flow into similar aspects of the spine.  For example, nerves that supply the neck and upper back also supply the upper limb and arm.  As a result, when pain comes in from a nerve around the neck, it can stimulate and create referred pain in the arm or shoulder.  Shoulder and arm pain that actually originates from the neck can be common.

In some cases, referred pain can occur without symptoms at the originating source.   Sciatica is another relatively common example.  The referred pain in sciatic conditions commonly occurs in the bottom, thigh or leg.  Even though the originating source in sciatica is the low back, sciatic can present with or without localized back or buttock pain.

How do I treat referred pain?

Locating the source and addressing the problem is the key to treating referred pain.  Once the source of your pain can be identified, a treatment plan can be identified to address the cause of your symptoms.

Treating referred pain without addressing the cause often results in short term relief with little long-lasting benefit.

In chronic cases, a multi-disciplinary approach can be very effective for referred pain.

Can physiotherapy help referred pain?

Physiotherapists are well placed to thoroughly assess and identify the cause of your symptoms.  With a very thorough understanding of anatomy and the nervous systems, physiotherapists are able to assess where your pain signals are coming from.

Depending on the structure causing pain, your physiotherapist can use a range of treatment techniques to provide pain relief and address the symptoms.  These could include joint mobilisation, dry needling and massage to address pain symptoms.  Exercises to focus on mobility or strength may also be used to ensure long lasting results.

If you are experience referred pain, contact our team at Malvern East Physiotherapy.  Book online or call us today!

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Last week we were fortunate enough to head back to uni and refresh our anatomy knowledge at @latrobeuni in the anatomy labs. 

Thank you to the Latrobe School of Physiotherapy for inviting us! Last week our team celebrated another great year. 

Whilst Melbourne’s weather had its own plans, we were still determined to keep with the theme of ‘Italian Summer’. We let our hair down to master the art of mixology 🍸🍹followed by an Italian feast. Friday morning Run Club with the team. Practicing what we preach!

Staying stronger, healthier and happier. This time last week, our team was nervously completing their final preparations for @melbmara . 

Congratulations to our physiotherapists and ME community who ran on the day.

Dilen and Michael completed their first marathons. Abbey and Lizzie smashed out their first half. Last Sunday, our team headed down to see our own Matt Warren win a premiership in the VAFA Premier Men’s Competition. Last week our team dedicated a full day to professional development and team building. At ME Physio we pride ourselves on collaboration to put you at the centre of everything we do. 

Our team covered the latest treatments for back pain, financial well-being and finished off the day with salsa dancing. 

Many thanks to our guests including James Schomburgk from @the2ndvisitphysio , Financial Planners Tony Vikram & Cameron Bishop and the @salsafoundation At ME Physio, our focus is on helping you get stronger so that you can keep doing the things you love.

For Tony and Joan, healthier and stronger is being able to navigate the iconic Coast to Coast Walk in the UK! We recently had the pleasure of hosting Elise Bujor from Women’s & Men’s Health Physiotherapy to discuss women’s health issues across the lifespan. 

Our team pride themselves on staying up to date to ensure you’re able to stay healthier, happier and stronger. Huge milestones over the past few weeks with both Tom and Jude from @delasallefc doing their first bit of running in their rehab. 

Tom is on the return from an ankle dislocation whilst Jude is putting in the hard work following a knee reconstruction. Last week our team enjoyed some friendly rivalry at the footy. 

With finals around the corner, some of our team can now safely make holidays plans for September. We recently had the pleasure of hosting the podiatry team from @sespodiatry. 

Our physiotherapists Michael and Abbey presented on rehabilitation following Achilles surgical repair and ankle surgery. Last weekend some of our team got together to complete the 10 km run @runmelbourne. There was no finish line picture as some were keen to run another 15 km!

Whilst running wasn’t for some - brunch was well received by everyone.

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