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What is referred pain?

A common question we're often asked is "what is referred pain?"

Referred pain is pain felt in an area that does not seem to relate to the problem. It is pain felt at a location other than the site of the origin of the pain. It can be the result of a network of interconnecting sensory nerves. Referred pain can feel like deep, numb, tingling or even pins and needles and can be described as being reflective pain. Sometimes it is hard for you to locate exactly where it is.

A very common example of referred pain is a headache. Where the pain can be referred to the base of the skull, the top of the head, the forehead, or to the temples. The source of the problem with headaches is most often the muscles of the neck. Pain sensations travel through the nerves from the neck and into the head. The sensory nerves are bombarded with information confusing the nerve pathways resulting in pain being felt in the forehead or temples.

Myotherapists & Physiotherapists are specially trained to locate the underlying source of pain, and restore proper function to the area.

The aim of a treatment is to;

  • Relax painful muscle spasm or 'knots' with massage or dry needling

  • Improve movement of the muscle through stretching

  • Reduce inflammation

  • Strengthen weakened muscles with exercises

It's important to treat all pain seriously and get it seen to by a trained professional so they can locate the source of the pain and treat this along with the symptoms. If you treat only the site of pain it is highly likely that it will return and get worse as the underlying cause has not been resolved.

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