Is Your Pain Radiating Or Referred?

Clear Lake Chiropractor Comments: You may be under the impression that pain is simply pain, but that isn’t the case to your chiropractor. That’s because where you’re feeling pain may not be the location of the cause of it at all! The type and location of pain you’re experiencing helps your chiropractor to diagnose the underlying problem. Here’s how your chiropractor can tell the difference between referred and radiating pain, and the difference it can make for you.

What is Referred Pain?

Referred pain tends to be pain that is less focal and contained to a general area, an area usually close to the source of the pain. The pain does not travel down specific nerve dermatomes. This type of pain is often associated with trigger points, which your chiropractor is trained to look for when they perform an exam to try to understand the source of your pain.

Trigger points are basically small knots in the muscle where the muscle fibers are contracted and irritated. The resulting pain feels dull and aching, often deep and steady. It can happen when you’re at rest or when you move, and the range in the level of pain you experience can be significant. The pain can result in muscle aches and pains, headaches, low back pain, neck pain, jaw pain, or even mimic symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.

What is Radiating Pain?

For many patients who seek the help of a chiropractor, they come in complaining of pain that radiates. That means that it starts in one place but travels to another, usually along the path of a nerve. This type of pain is also called radicular pain and is usually caused by nerve irritation. Pay attention to if the pain crosses 2 or more joints, like from your neck across your shoulder and elbow and into your hand.

A great example of radiating pain is sciatica. If your sciatic nerve is irritated, then it can cause pain across your buttock and down your leg to your toes.

How Can We Help You?

Your chiropractor will do a medical history and examination to try to determine if your pain is referred or radiating. Once they have determined the cause of your pain, they can then begin to treat the underlying condition to alleviate the pain with spinal adjustments and physical modalities.

They can also advise you on changes you may need to make to your lifestyle so that the issue doesn’t reoccur. This may include dietary changes, exercise changes, or a more ergonomic setup at your office with frequent breaks for proper stretching.

Dr. Ward Beecher practices at Beecher Chiropractic Clinic at 1001 Pineloch, Ste 700 Houston, TX 77062. You can schedule an appointment at or by calling (281) 286-1300. If you have any questions regarding this blog, please comment below!