Referred Pain

Pain generated in one part of the body but felt it another part of the body is called referred pain. For example, pleurisy affecting the diaphragm may cause pain to be felt in the shoulder and the pain of acute appendicitis is felt first as referred pain in the center of the abdomen around the umbilicus (belly button) and later in the right lower quarter of the abdomen.

 Referred pain seems to occur because nerves from various parts of the body converge on their way to the spinal cord. The sensory nerves from the heart, for example, flow into the same part of the spine that gathers nerve impulses from the shoulder. When a pain signal comes in, say, from the heart or shoulder, it stimulates nerves farther down the arm or in the neck. That explains why the left arm or jaw hurts during a heart attack.


Common Sites of Referred Pain:

Pain Site – Possible Ailment

Shoulder pain – from liver, gall bladder, stomach, spleen, lungs, or pericardial sac ( the connective tissue bag containing the heart).

Pain between the shoulder blades – disease in the stomach

Pain in right shoulder – gallbladder disease

Epigastrium pain (the soft spot on the abdomen, just under the breastplate, between the ribs) – from heart

Abdominal pain (on the sides just under the spot where your ribs end) – from pneumonia, liver (right side), or pleurisy

Testicle pain – from ureteric colic

Knee pain – from hip

Neck, jaw, shoulders, arm and back pain – from angina pectoris or heart attack

Brain freeze or ice cream headache – from vagus nerve being cooled

Head Pain – eye disorders such as glaucoma, infections, or tumors of the nasal sinuses, dental infections, and arthritis of the neck.

Back Pain – pancreas

Ear pain – infection in teeth or gums

Right side of neck, chest, shoulder blade pain– liver, gallbladder

Upper back, chest, right shoulder pain– abdomen

Back (below ribs), groin pain – Kidney

Neck, jaw, arms, shoulders, upper back pain – heart

Chest, jaws, neck, back pain– Lungs

Ears (earache), head (headache) – teeth, gums, eyes

Teeth pain – sinus infection

5 Responses to “Referred Pain”
  1. Terry McMahon says:

    My wife, Iris has severe dry eye problems. After treatment went to eye doctor who said cornea was fine and eye was moist. Said nothing wrong with eye. Had scan of sinus, again nothing seen. Symptoms; cannot read for any length of time before pain in lower part of eyes; Eyes sensitive to light and when the pain starts additional shooting pains starting at the lower part of eye to just behind ear on left side.

    With the above symptoms what approach should be taken to resolve what the problem is. Also with the above symptoms can anyone provide an analysis of what the problem is

  2. Terry,

    There are many more factors to consider: age of your wife, medications she’s on, foods she eats (possible allergies), if she has recently suffered from the flu or other virus, etc.
    It’s important that with pain in the eye or any changes in vision she be seen by a doctor but it sounds as if you already have (sinus scan).
    From the information that is provided: I would suggest you start a journal that keeps track of everything she eats, supplements/medications she takes, and see if any ‘triggers’ go along with the pain she’s experiencing. It sounds as though (simply a guess without all the information) migraine, allergies, inflammation of ear canal or surrounding blood vessels would be good places to start looking.
    It’s important to keep the tears flowing, dry eye has been associated with malnutrition since many nutrients take part in making sure the lacimal (tear duct) gland functions properly. Nutrients needed for good moist eyes are vitamin B6, vitamin C, folic acid, zinc, potassium, calcium, linolenic acid (borage oil), and of course water.
    Some medications could interfere with these, an allergy could inhibit her absorption of one of these, and then inflammation could possibly occur causing the pain she experiences.
    While keeping track in a journal, here’s some suggestions for any ‘triggers’ found:
    High protein diet -Reduce protein, total fat and cholesterol while increasing complex carbohydrates.
    Little fruits or vegetables eaten – Increase the intake of red, orange, yellow, and dark green vegetables as sources of vitamin A.
    Little complex carbohydrates eaten -Increase consumption of grains, legumes, and raw vegetables to increase zinc and folic acid uptake.
    Little sources of potassium or vitamin B6 eaten – Vitamin B6 and potassium may be increased in the diet by eating nuts, bananas, and beans.
    Little fruits or vegetables eaten -Consume more foods high in vitamin C (fruits and vegetables).
    More than two glasses a day or alcohol or caffeine – Eliminate alcohol and caffeine.
    Excessive amounts of salt or sugar -Reduce sugar and salt.
    Not enough water consumed – Increase water consumption.

  3. phil says:

    i have pain in left side of neck shoulder, face, head, ear and i get pain in my hip i have been to the doctors about my hip he sed i would of pulled a muscle but the pain is allways there, i went to a face surgen about my neck, face pain he give me auntidepressents to relax the muscle but i still get all this pain i feel like no 1 can understand my symptums, i get scared incase its something bad but i wont go back to the doctors because i have been that much he might just think im parronied everyone i talk to about it say im parronoied so it leaves me on my own, im 20 years old and i shouldent be getting so scared but i look over the internet sites and there are many things i look at and it gets me more scared.
    tingling in the left side of my face head and ear

    aces and pains in left side of neck and shoulder
    sometimes chest pains
    pain in my hip and sometimes in my left leg
    please can someone help im scared and feel like im left in the dark, can someone e.mail me with ansers thanks.

  4. Phil,

    Just a suggestion but you may want to go to a chiropractor for the hip pain. It may be that there is a shoulder out too and that could possibly cause all the symptoms you have.
    Also, a little advice. Do not worry about looking paranoid when you visit your doctor. Sometimes doctors just don’t have enough symptoms to diagnose and over time as other symptoms appear, the diagnosis becomes clearer. If the medication you’ve been prescribed does not help your ailment by all means, go back to your doctor for a follow-up. Your doctor can’t help you get to the bottom of anything if you’re afraid to tell him/her that the medication has not worked and the symptoms have changed.
    On the other hand, if you do go back to your doctor and you’re not listened to, further testing odered, different prescription, or any positive help offered then feel free to see another doctor. But before you consider seeing another doctor share all the information with him/her and follow-up.


  5. sylvia says:

    hiya i have a pain in my right side under my right shoulder and in between my shoulder blades think i had a gall stone attack three weeks ago but i still have pain in my side and back can you advise

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: