Referred Pain

What is referred pain in a massage and what does it mean?

Referred Pain can be a very odd sensation – feeling pain in a completely different area to where your massage therapist is working on. 

The feeling of pain radiating through a region of the body instead of a local site is often known as ‘referred pain’, and it can tell your therapist a lot about what’s going on in the body during a massage. 

What are trigger points? 

If you’ve ever had trigger point therapy in a massage, you’ll know the exact moment your therapist finds the right trigger point – it’s usually when you get ready to spring off the table and out the window. 

Trigger points are also commonly referred to as ‘knots’. 

Trigger points are essentially areas in the muscle/body that have become hypertensive and stiffen to restrict movement and attempt to act as a defence against injury and overuse.
When this happens, the constriction on the muscle, blood, and oxygen to the area can send pain signals through the body’s network of nerves and present as referred pain in a different area. 

For example, someone experiencing chronic headaches may actually be referred pain from a trigger point in the shoulders or neck. 

Common trigger point symptoms 

Some of these trigger point symptoms may sound familiar: 

  • You feel a persistent dull aching sensation 
  • There is no clear triggering event for the pain 
  • You can feel the pain radiating and/or moving across a region of your body 
  • You have specific places on your body that are very sensitive to pressure 
  • The pain may subside or feel better with movement and exercise 
  • You may find some relief from the pain by applying heat 

Trigger point massage for referred pain 

Ever noticed that massage therapists have a unique talent in finding that exact spot where all your referred pain seems to stem from? Massage therapy for trigger points works by tracing your referred pain back to the source, then applying compression over a short period of time to release the muscle spasm/contraction of that trigger point. 

Typically, your therapist will hold that compression point (while you’re probably gripping onto the table for dear life) until they feel a change in the tissue. That change is generally the result of the build-up of toxins and tension being released from the area. 

Some causes of activating trigger points and referred pain 

Prevention is always the best cure, and there are a lot of avoidable everyday habits that could be causing referred pain such as: 

  • Lifting your shoulders due to anxiety or stress 
  • Constantly hunching forward and/or looking down at your device for long periods  
  • Awkward lifting 
  • Repetitive movements without breaks or stretching 
  • Poor sitting and standing posture 

Massage for Pain Relief

In addition to proper posture and exercise, regular massage can be a fantastic option to help your muscle repair process. Book today with any of our highly trained therapists at Ogden Massage for Pain Relief!