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Discover the source of your pain

Most patients who consult me are doing so because they are in pain and are often surprised when the pain is not originating from where they thought it was.

The analogy I use is a leaking roof – the water has often tracked in various directions, a distance from where it originated, sometimes creating confusion and if the wrong part of the roof is patched up, it continues to leak!

The body is much the same and so the success to resolving the pain is in identifying the source and treating the right area from the outset.

Types of pain

Most people have heard of acute (short duration) and chronic (longer duration) pain which I have previously talked about. There are other types of pain that relate to where the pain is coming from and that is my focus here:

  • Nociceptive – this pain is from damage to body tissue, for example, twisting an ankle or a fall. The pain is often described as sharp, achy or throbbing in character.
  • Neuropathic – caused by damage to the nerves or other parts of the nervous system. Most commonly described as shooting, stabbing or burning pain but there can be other associated symptoms such as pins and needles and changes in sensation, ie. how well you can feel hot or cold.
  • Radicular (radiating) – usually starts in one place and travels along a nerve, normally caused by a nerve compression or irritation. The pain is often described as sharp, shooting and electric like or toothachy. Other symptoms can be tingling, numbness or weakness in some muscles. A common example of this is sciatica or pain radiating into the arm from a nerve issue in the neck.
  • Referred – pain that is more general and felt in one place but not at the site of origin. This type of pain is often caused by trigger points, small knots in the muscles resulting in for example deep, dull aches and pains, headaches and low back pain.

For more advice on trigger points, read our previous blog. However, be aware that organ related pain can also refer, examples being the gall bladder referring to the right shoulder, heart to the left arm. Hence the importance of seeking help when necessary.

When to seek help

As a rule of thumb, if you know the cause of your pain and it subsides within a timescale you expect, then you most likely do not need to seek advice. However, if you are unsure of the cause, the pain is severe or not subsiding within a few days to a few weeks, it is advisable to see a professional, such as an Osteopath.

Osteopaths are trained to identify the source of your pain by reproducing the symptoms using their invaluable skills of palpation, ensuring you receive the most appropriate treatment. If the picture is unclear or it is felt alternative treatment is required, you would be referred to your GP for further investigations.

Remember our team of Osteopaths are only a phone call away and always happy to help!