Referred pain

What is Referred pain?

Referred pain, also called reflective pain, is pain perceived at a location other than the site of the painful stimulus. An example is the case of ischemia brought on by a myocardial infarction (heart attack), where pain is often felt in the neck, shoulders, and back rather than in the chest, the site of the injury. The International Association for the Study of Pain, as of 2001, has not officially defined the term; hence several authors have defined the term differently.

Radiation is different from referred pain. The pain related to a myocardial infarction could either be referred pain or pain radiating from the chest. Classically the pain associated with a myocardial infarction is located in the mid or left side of the chest where the heart is actually located. The pain can radiate to the left side of the jaw and into the left arm. Referred pain is when the pain is located away from or adjacent to the organ involved. Referred pain would be when a person has pain only in their jaw or left arm, but not in the chest. Myocardial infarction can rarely present as referred pain and this usually occurs in people with diabetes or older age.

Physicians and scientists have known about referred pain since the late 1880s. Despite an increasing amount of literature on the subject, the mechanism of referred pain is unknown, although there are several hypotheses.

Questions and answers on "Referred pain"

I've had my right wisdom tooth (right underjaw) removed by my dentist last Friday, now I'm having these sharp pains in my right tonsil. They last a...

doctor1 MD


Thanks for writing to HCM. The pain in the ear after dental extraction is not unusal. This could be a referred pain which means the throat,...

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I am 20. I got 2 fillings on the left side of my jaw 2 days ago. I have had fillings in the past but this time around I have had painful burning...

doctor1 MD

That's the fun of medicine that the way god created us.It is possible that you have pain as you described as the nerve supply ic common for...

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about a couple of days i was coughin up my phelgm like i usually do and after i stopped later that day my right eye started hurting more so up...

doctor1 MD

hi..u might be having referred pain because of cough/sinusitis..please consult physician/ENT doc for further opinion..u may start antibiotics/...

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