Post Accident Roaming Pain Syndromes
Many patients ask why their pain seems to be moving around when they are being treated for an injury and what is the significance of this. In many cases this is a good phenomenon, since we know that when a patient has pain that is stationary, it is a much greater injury. It is never good when there is a flair-up, but when a person has a flair-up and it settles down quickly or when pain shifts from one part of the body to another, it shows that the body has the flexibility to get back to where it is supposed to be and this is a positive note in rehabilitation.
Many injuries occur in a joint or joint complexes, that are closely associated with other pain sensitive structures For example, when a person strains their low back, this is comprised of several muscles, tendons, ligaments and adjacent vertebra closely associated with each other and the pain may roam among these supportive elements.
On the contrary, there are joints that are not in close in proximity, but work closely in function such as the knee, hip and ankle complex which could share in the “roaming pain syndrome”. For example, when a patient strains their ankle, they often put excessive strain on their knee and they may experience knee pain as well. The knee and ankle are not in close proximity to each other, but they share the same bones and they are closely related in function and compensation can occur. The same principle can apply to the knee and hip joint.
Taking this into consideration, one could understand how compensation could be a big factor in an injury. Many times the pain experienced from compensation is worse than the original injury. For example, I had a patient who was involved in an automobile accident and she injured her right knee, by it smashing into the dash board. During the initial examination, she only experienced knee pain. Her low back was feeling fine, but one week later, after limping, she experienced more pain in her back than what was initially in her knee.
Additionally, when two areas are injured, our minds concentrate on the greater injury and many times the area less injured is not initially symptomatic. When the greater injured area heals, the secondary injury becomes apparent. It can appear that the pain is moving, but usually it is just the awareness that is greater.
These are some reasons to obtain a thorough Chiropractic-Orthopedic examination proximate to an injury. It will help to identify lesser injuries that are not symptomatic, along with treating the greater injured area promptly to minimize compensation, speed up the healing process, and prevent long term disabilities.