One of the most common questions that physiotherapists face is “What is referred pain?” The name suggests a strange problem, one that doesn’t relate to a specific area. Put simply, referred pain is pain felt in an area that does not seem to have any relation to the problem.

Referred pain is pain perceived at a location other than the site of the painful origin. It’s the result of a network of interconnecting sensory nerves.

The pain felt with referred pain is usually deep, and it is difficult to pinpoint where the exact location is. At times, however, referred pain can result in numbness, pins and needles or tingling in areas of the body.

Chronic Pain GP Image

There are many conditions that involve referred pain. A very common example is headaches, in which pain is 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 joints or muscles of the neck. Pain sensations travel through the nerves between the neck and head, and confusion in the nerve pathways results in pain being felt in the forehead, or temples.

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

Treatment

The aims of the treatment are:

  • Reduce inflammation
  • Improving movement of the joint
  • Relaxing painful muscle spasm
  • Strengthening weakened muscles

Pain - July 2014

The treatment may involve stretching and massage techniques to tight and tender muscles, gentle mobilisation techniques and manipulation of the effected joints and the use of ultrasound or interferential modalities. You may also be given exercises based on your personal need and fitness level. Supervised exercise-programs have been shown to be far more effective than unsupervised programs.

Stretch of the Month

standing-sidestretch_300The Standing Side Stretch

Stretching can improve your range of motion, increase circulation, and calm your mind—which may help fend off injuries and illness, as well as bring on a better night’s sleep.

  1. Stand with your feet together and your arms straight overhead. Clasp your hands together, with your fingers interlaced and pointer fingers extended. Inhale as you reach upward.
  2. Breathe out as you bend your upper body to the right. Take five slow breaths. Slowly return to the centre.
  3. Repeat on the left side.

Towards Wellness

Honey is popularly known as a sweetener, but many do not know that it also contains nutritional and medical qualities praised by none other than Hippocrates, the father of medicine.

According to a Swiss study that discussed the nutritional value of honey, honey is rich in carbohydrates but has a low glycemic index (GI). Foods with low GI release glucose into the blood slowly and steadily; high GI foods cause blood sugar to spike. High GI foods are not suitable for diabetics; but those after a workout or are experiencing hypoglycemia will benefit from its ability to give immediate energy.

Honey contains the following trace minerals: potassium, magnesium, calcium, sodium, chloride, sulfur, iron, copper, iodine and zinc which although marginal, may contribute to the recommended daily intake requirements. It contains choline, a B-vitamin essential for brain and cardiovascular functions, cellular membrane composition and repair; and a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine.