Referred Back Pain
- Posted on: Apr 15 2018
Seeing that title, you’d think this could be about your Uncle Wally with the bad back who in most conversations somehow brings it around to referring to his aching back. Actually, referred back pain tends to be an achy, dull and migratory pain, meaning it’s not a sharp pain and it tends to move around. The intensity can vary and the pain seems to come and go.
Where is referred back pain felt?
Referred pain usually starts in the low back area and tends to radiate into the groin, buttocks, and upper thighs. While this pain can change from one area to another, it rarely turns up below the knees.
You can think of referred back pain as similar to the way a heart attack often sends pain radiating into the left arm. In referred back pain, the cause is the network of interconnected sensory nerves that supply many of the tissues of the low back, pelvis, and thigh. It’s kind of like a group email where the reply was meant to only go to a single person, but it went to “reply all.”
Because they are interconnected, an injury to one of the structures can result in pain being referred to any of the other structures. Some people confuse this pain with that of a pinched or compressed nerve, but they are not the same.
Diagnosing referred back pain
Because of the interconnected nature of the sensory nerves, our brains cannot figure out the actual source of the pain. At DFW Center for Spinal Disorders, we are able to distinguish this type of referred pain from sciatica (also known as radicular pain) that starts with a compressed nerve and follows that nerve down into the leg. This distinction is important because treating referred pain and radicular pain is quite different. That’s why it’s important to trust this kind of diagnosis and treatment to the experts at DFW Center for Spinal Disorders.
Treatment of referred back pain
The usual course of treatment for referred back pain is similar to axial back pain (low back pain that is worse with certain activities and positions but doesn’t travel into other areas). Once the low back problem is resolved, the referring pain usually resolves as well.
These are the typical treatments for referred back pain:
- One or two days of rest
- Physical therapy, active exercise, stretching
- Ice packs and/or hot pads
- Pain medication
With this kind of pain, surgery such as a laminectomy isn’t an option, as the referred pain isn’t originating with a compressed nerve that surgery can free.
If you have back pain that has moved into your thighs or groin, please give us a call at DFW Center for Spinal Disorders. We can correctly diagnose the pain and work to get it under control. Call us at (817) 916-4685 to make an appointment.
Posted in: Back Pain