by David Wadsworth
Why Pain is a Liar!
Pain really is a liar when you consider a few well established facts about pain:
Referred Pain and Referred Tenderness – The Ultimate Liars
How Referred Pain, Referred Tenderness and Secondary Trigger Points can Trick You
If referred pain hangs around long enough, the muscles under the area of referred pain may not only exhibit referred tenderness but may also develop secondary trigger points. These trigger points are painful “knots” in the muscle, and can generate pain by themselves even though the primary cause may lie elsewhere. In some cases the secondary trigger point pain can become worse than primary pain.
The phenomena of referred tenderness and secondary trigger points in a region of referred pain are diagnostically challenging. So if your practitioner keeps treating a trigger point and makes it worse or fails to improve it permanently, then chances are they are treating a secondary rather than the primary problem. In this case treating the primary problem will make treatment of the secondary trigger point much easier and more effective. The same concept applies to a joint problem – is the joint dysfunction secondary to something else, or the primary underlying cause of your pain?
How Your Neck Pain May be Lying to You
Some examples about how pain really is a liar might illustrate this concept better. Let’s look at where lots of patients feel neck pain – in the back of their neck and top of the shoulders. Look at the referred pain diagrams below. They each show very similar areas of pain, but each one is the area of referred pain proven by research for a different structure (left sided pain shown only – obviously pain can occur on the right or on both sides simultaneously, and the pain areas are “typical”, meaning that as an individual you may experience a slightly different area of referred pain). There are many other structures which refer pain into the neck / shoulder region, but here are 8 common ones:
Here’s a list of the structures from left to right. Note how far away from the neck and area of pain some of them are, and how some very small structures (like the facet joints in the neck) can refer large areas of pain.
So don’t believe pain – it’s a liar. It can’t tell you:
So what DOES pain tell you?
Pain is telling you to take action and see a professional about it. Don’t leave it to fester away, as the earlier you seek the help the easier and more effectively your pain can be treated.