radiating pain

What Is Radiating Pain and What Causes It?

Radiating pain is just what the name implies—an intense pain that spreads across a significant part of the body, leaving discomfort in its wake. This is because its start and end points actually follow the path of a nerve. Radiating pain isn’t to be confused with referred pain, which is general pain that typically pops up near an injured tissue.

For pain management doctors, pinpointing an accurate diagnosis is the most important part of treatment. But the tricky thing about radiating pain is that while you feel pain in one area, the source of the pain itself is actually in another location.

How Does Radiating Pain Happen?

Sciatica is a classic example of radiating pain. The sciatic nerve runs from the lower back all the way down the back of the legs. When vertebrae in the lower spine pinch this nerve, it causes strong, radiating pain all the way through the legs. But even though the most intense pain may very well be in the legs, the source of the pain itself is actually in the lower back.

This is an important distinction to make, as it’s ultimately what guides true and lasting pain relief. On the other end of the spectrum, failing to treat radiating pain can lead to chronic pain and other serious medical problems. Similarly, the wrong diagnosis can nudge a patient into going through with unnecessary back surgery. The result? For many, it translates to chronic pain and a lifetime dependency on prescription drugs.

Patients who undergo surgery for sciatica run the risk of sustaining nerve damage, which can result in paralysis and sexual dysfunction, among other things. Why take the risk? Surgery should be a last resort.

What Are Other Common Causes of Radiating Pain?

Radiating pain can be deceiving because it tricks the sufferer into thinking the pain is localized in one area when it’s really originating in another part of the body. Sciatica is just one example.

A kidney stone or urinary tract infection, for instance, can trigger radiating pain in the groin. Similarly, straining or spraining your upper back can cause radiating pain in the chest. In the same vein, a pinched nerve in the spine can spread pain throughout different parts of the body.

How to Treat Radiating Pain

The biggest mistake many people make is rushing into surgery without having all the facts. At Pain Stop North Phoenix, experienced pain management experts provide free, one-on-one consultations and X-rays to give patients the most accurate diagnosis possible.

From there, we provide safe, noninvasive treatment that tackles the root cause of your pain. This is how you achieve both immediate and lasting pain relief. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.

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