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Why Radiating Pain Is Important to Get Addressed by a Chiropractor

By Dr. Molly Casey

Radiating Pain

It is through the nervous system that the brain talks to the body and the body to the brain. The majority of the nervous system does not, and cannot, transmit pain. The system is busy with many functions that you have no idea even exists, and some that you do. Something called “radiating pain” can be felt, and when your body communicates it to you, it should be acted upon.

I frequently say that pain is the last symptom to come about and the first symptom to go away. Pain is not as straightforward as you may think. There are different types of pain. There are different intensity levels and consistent or inconsistent presentations. When pain is present, it can point the doctors in specific directions of what may (or may not) be going on in the body. Pain is one way your body speaks; it is important to listen.

Pain in Daily Life

Aches and pains happen in the body throughout life. It’s a common experience shared by all of us. I’m a firm believer that the benefits of being active always outweigh the risks of being inactive. It doesn’t mean that the active person won’t encounter pain in the body; they will. Because most people know that aches and pains are a part of the journey of life, it can be tough to know what types of pain to pay more attention to, or what pain to be more aware of in seeking out help. Radiating pain is one of those types of pain that is a clear indicator that expert assessment is required.

What Is Radiating Pain?

Radiating pain is pain that travels from one area of the body to another. The pain starts in one area and spreads to another broader area. Common presentations of this is neck pain that you also feel in the shoulders or even into the arm, forearm, and/or into the hand and fingers. Another common presentation is low back pain that travels into the buttocks, and into the front, back, or side of the thigh. It can also go all the way into the calf, foot, and toes.

These are not the only examples of radiating pain, but they are common. They are not normal and absolutely are indicators for getting an assessment. There can be a number of different causes to radiating pain. A common cause of pain described above can be spinal disc bulging or herniation. When the disc itself becomes enlarged and presses on the spinal nerve, pain can travel a portion of -- or the entire length of -- that nerve, thus, pain all the way down the arm or leg. Another common cause can be extremely tight muscles that compress the nerve so that pain occurs at the site of compression and traveling below that.

What Should I Do?

Chiropractors are doctors of the nervous system. Radiating pain usually comes from some level of nerve irritation. Chiropractors focus on optimal functioning of the nervous system. When there is nervous system interference, the communication from the brain to body (and vice versa) is compromised. As a result, your health suffers. You will feel pain eventually. Radiating pain is an example of this. In a chiropractic evaluation, the doctor will assess the health and functioning of the spine to determine if this is creating the issue. If so, they have the education, training, and expertise to correct the problem, not simply mask the symptoms.

Pain is your body talking to you. It is important to listen. Pain is common, not normal. If and when you experience radiating pain, it is also more important to understand other elements of your health that can be negatively affected. The longer you go without addressing it, the worse the problem gets. When experiencing this type of pain, chiropractors are the perfect expert to increase your overall health and quality of life.

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