What's The Difference Between Radiating And Referred Pain?

We hate to be the ones to break it to you, but pain is a part of life. Heartbreaks to hip breaks. To the classic bruised knee. Our mental and physical health is constantly exposed to taking a hit as we go about our daily lives. The word "pain" in general tends to be a blanket word for an uncomfortable feeling. When asked if you are experiencing pain, "yes" or "no" is usually the answer. But if someone asks you if you are experiencing radiating or referred pain, it might be more difficult to give a concrete answer if you are unaware of what these medical terms mean. That's where we come in. Here is the difference between radiating and referred pain.

According to The Joint Chiropractic, radiating pain is a kind of pain that travels from one part of your body to another. Radiating pain can also be referred to as radicular pain and is usually caused by nerve irritation. A popular source of radiating pain can start in the sciatica nerve in your lower back. If this nerve is irritated, then it may lead to shooting pain across your backside and all the way down to your toes.

It may be difficult to find the source of referred pain

Healthline states other conditions that can result in radiating pain, including a lumbar herniated disk, spinal stenosis, bone spurs, and gallstones. A great first step in treating radiating pain is to try and find its source. Consider making an appointment with your doctor, and in the meantime, you can self treat with over-the-counter pain relievers, cold packs, and light stretching. But only if your body allows it.

What about referred pain? According to Pysiopedia, this type of pain is experienced in a specific area of the body that is not the core area that is experiencing an issue. It is most likely you are experiencing referred pain because the nerves in our body are connected. Healthline notes that an enlightening example of referred pain is the pain people feel in their jaws or teeth before they are about to have a heart attack. Another is phantom limb syndrome: If a person has lost a limb, it is not uncommon for them to describe feeling pain from the body part that has been removed.

Sometimes pain can be difficult to describe, especially if you are unaware of its source. Referred and radiating pain may be different types of pain. But now that you know the difference between the two, we hope it will help you find the best way to treat any symptoms you have now, or may have in the future.