There are three different mechanisms that affect your back pain when it is related to muscles- and that means most of the pain you will experience in your life.

1. Referred back pain patterns- Pain may be referred from one muscle to another when the nerves carrying painful sensations in a muscle stimulates the same area in the spinal cord as an adjacent muscle.

2. Central sensitization- When a painful area of the body stimulates the spinal cord and makes the cord more  active, other sensations coming in to the cord that would usually not be experienced as painful are now experienced as pain- like turning up the volume on your stereo and hearing things that you don’t hear when the volume is low. So when the original area of damage causing the pain is properly treated the other scattered areas of pain may disappear.

3. Diffuse noxious inhibitory control- Pain in one region may suppress pain in another region of the body. Another way of saying that is bad pain covers lesser pain. When the bad pain is eliminated the lesser pain may now be felt more strongly.

I will give more detailed examples of all three mechanisms and patient examples next week.

~ Norman Marcus, MD
Norman Marcus Pain Institute, New York NY
“Your New York City Pain Relief Doctor”

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