Why does my leg hurt if my back is the problem?

We have all felt pain at some time in our lives but have you ever really thought about why you have pain or where it is actually coming from?

Pain is our body’s way of telling us that something is not quite right or that something in our body is being compromised. It is actually a very clever system and as much as no one really “likes” pain, we would be in big trouble if we couldn’t feel it. Not only does pain tell us when we have an injury, but in many situations, it is an indication that if we keep doing the painful activity, we may continue to cause more damage to our body.

There are several different types of pain which I won’t go into detail on now, but as Physiotherapists, our goal is to work out exactly where the pain is coming from, why it is coming from there and what we can do to reduce it.

That all sounds quite simple, however, the process is pretty complicated as our body’s pain pathways are extremely complex and can send mixed messages.

It would make sense to think that because you have pain in your knee, that the pain is actually originating in your knee. A lot of the time this is in fact true, however, it is often the case that the actual site of pain is not the same as the source.

A common example of this is injury in the shoulder. I regularly have patients come to me with pain in their arm, convinced that the arm is the origin of their pain. However, 90% of the time the pain is being “referred” down their arm from a structure in the shoulder.  Another common area of referred pain is experiencing leg pain when the injury is actually in your back.

So, pain is a pretty complex, yet extremely important function in our bodies. Sometimes it is easy to determine where it is coming from and the exact structure that is injured and other times we can feel like we are on a bit of a scavenger hunt through the body to find the pain source!

As Physiotherapists, we focus on several different aspects of the pain sensation such as how long you have had it, the type of pain (i.e. Is it sharp or achy) and if it has changed over time. It is important to do a thorough assessment to establish exactly which structure in the body is causing the pain and why this is happening.  We have many and varied tests for all areas of the body to help us to determine all of these things.

If you are experiencing pain, make an appointment with your Bend and Mend Physiotherapist today for a thorough assessment.

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