Referred Pain

Referred pain is tricky.  Referred pain means another area of the body hurts than the part of the body that is actually messed up and causing the pain.  So your shoulder or fingers might be bothering you but it’s really a neck problem.  But your neck might not hurt at all.  Your hips or toes might hurt but it’s a problem at your low back.  When your internal organs have a problem you might get pain in a weird place.

There are things called dermatomes.  A dermatome is an area of the skin that corresponds to a specific spinal segment.  If you have an issue with sensation at one of these places on your body, like it hurts, or it’s hot, or it’s cold, or it’s numb….it tells your therapist that something might be wrong with corresponding spinal segment.  Or it might not mean that.  Here’s a dermatome chart.  

There are also myotomes.  Same idea but with muscles.  If something is really weak, like your finger or toes or quads or biceps or whatever, you might have a problem at the corresponding spinal segment.  Or not.  Here’s a myotome chart and explanation.

All that stuff I just talked about is actually called radiculopathy.  But then there’s referred pain.  Like when your left arm hurts during a heart attack, that’s referred pain.  There ain’t nothin’ wrong with your arm(but there might be).  Your heart is crying out for help.  Here’s a referred pain chart.

I once got a prescription to treat a patient for “deltoid pain.”  Any therapist knows how utterly ridiculous that diagnosis is.  Very thorough examination there.

After a stroke all of your dermatomes and myotomes will be all messed up and you’ll have a bunch of referred pain because the thing that controls it all, the brain, is f’ed up.

Categories: Health, Recovery, Rehab, Stroke stuff

Tags: , , , , , , ,

8 replies

  1. Very interesting, Amy. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Amy, In women, referred pain in the jaw is also a sign of a heart attack. When I had mine it felt like someone went 2 rounds of round house punches to my jaw rather than an elephant sitting on my chest…that came later.

  3. I’ll try not to be obnoxious. Any correspondence to reflexology? Or meridians in acupuncture?

  4. Amy – I got this e-mail this morning & I suspect someone has hijacked your computer.
    I would advise not opening the link.
    Rudy Dankwort

    How are you?
    I saw it in the Oprah’s show

    Amy Shissler

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPad


  1. Dermatomes | mycerebellarstrokerecovery

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