Referred pain is when pain is felt in a different place in the body then where the source of the pain is located. This is very common with the shoulder and neck. A muscle trigger point in a rotator cuff muscle can elicit pain into the forearm and hand. Neck problems can present as pain in the shoulder or arm. Ankle pain may be resulting from a low back issue. The best way to isolate and diagnose the problem is through a physical examination and history. The cause of such pain can be from muscle trigger point (AKA muscle knots), pain from nerve involvement, or pain resulting from other tissue conditions such as adhesions.
Headaches are another good example of this. Some headaches are actually a result of bad posture, causing certain muscles to become overworked and begin to present as headaches. A very common presentation of this is a headache that begins in the base of the skull and starts to creep up the back of the skull to the top of the head. The usual suspects include the suboccipital muscles and have that before mentioned pain referral pattern.
What are the alternatives to seeking chiropractic help? Here are a few options (and explanations why they are less than ideal).
“If I wait long enough maybe it will just go away”
-Pain is an indicator from your body that there is something wrong or out of balance. By ignoring it the condition often worsens. Even if the pain goes away the cause remains. Yes, sometimes pain can be temporary and harmless, but that occurs far less frequently than commonly thought. It’s best to identify the cause before the results have a chance to become devastating.
“I can just take some ibuprofen”
-The holistic response to this is “your pain is NOT an ibuprofen deficiency.” Can over the counter medications be useful? Absolutely. But remember that they should only be used as a functional ‘band aid’ to allow the person to function. They are never the long term solution to bodily pain. My recommendation to patients is to use them only if you are not able to stay active and only for a short period of time.
“I just need to exercise more or get in better shape”
-Physical activity is a fantastic way to help the body heal itself and maintain its own optimal function. There is more to the story here, though. Most people do not perform exercises to perfection. By performing an exercise short of perfection there is an increased chance of injury during and after the exercise. Proper stretching and warmup and are essential for the body to avoid trauma to muscles, joints and ligaments.
So, what should you do if you’re experiencing pain in the shoulder, head, arms, or legs to which you can’t figure out the cause? Contact our office in Draper or in Salt Lake and schedule an appointment for a physical examination and treatment. 801-810-4144.