Referred Pain: Causes and Diagnosis [Video]

Ask the Expert: Spine Video Series

About the video: What are the most common causes and of referred pain and how is it diagnosed?

Our experts share the most common causes for referred pain and the steps taken to determine the source of the pain.

Meet Trevor Wahlquist, M.D.

Dr. Wahlquist’s approach: “Ensuring people are living healthy and active lifestyles is important to me. I strive to work together with patients to find non-operative and operative solutions for their pain, getting them back to the activities and the people that matter most to them.”

Dr. Wahlquist’s education: Aftera earning his Science in Kinesiology bachelors degree At the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis and Masters of Science in Human Nutrition at Columbia University in New York, New York, Dr. Wahlquist completed his medical studies at the University of Minnesota’s School of Medicine. Later he trained as a resident of Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and he went on to complete a Spine Surgery fellowship at New England Baptist Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.

Meet Dr. Jose Santos

Dr. Santos’ approach: I believe in the body’s innate ability to heal itself and use the most conservative treatment methods possible to help people reduce pain and achieve their highest level of function. I use a comprehensive approach to diagnosis and treatment and am committed to caring for my patients and improving the quality of their lives.

Dr. Santos’ education: After completing his undergraduate studies at the University of the Philippines, he graduated with her medical degree from University of the East, Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical center in the Philippines. He completed his first residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital, in Miami, FL. He then went on to complete a second residency at the University of Missouri, in Kansas City. Santos also participated in a interventional pain fellowship at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Summit Orthopedics offers comprehensive spine expertise

Summit Orthopedics’ Spine Care program is recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance for the comprehensive expertise of our patient-centered care. Our back specialists diagnose spine problems and design custom treatment plans built on a conservative, nonsurgical approach. Most patients find relief through treatments including guided injections, specialized physical therapy, biofeedback, exercise, activity modification, and medication. When conservative care does not relieve symptoms, our highly skilled surgeons offer proven, evidence-based surgical options. Together with you, we will determine the right course of action.

Start your journey to a healthy spine. Find your spine expert, request an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968–5201 to schedule a spine consultation.

Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MNPlymouth, MN, Vadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as additional community clinics throughout the metro and southern Minnesota.

Additional resources for you

Video Transcription

Referred pain is when you experience pain in a particular location that’s actually coming from an organ or muscle that’s in a different location. The classic example that we always heard of and everyone should know about is heart pain, pain that’s in the left side of the chest that’s up in the shoulder and goes down the left arm. We know that that pain isn’t from the shoulder; it’s not down the arm. This pain is actually from the heart. And that’s just referring itself to the shoulder. When people come in for referred pain, we’re able to figure out the source by first doing a very good physical examination and good history. And if we need to, then we can do advanced imaging, such as MRIs or CT scans or X-rays, to help us try to isolate the cause of the referred pain.

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  • Jose O. Santos, M.D.

    “I believe in the body’s innate ability to heal itself and use the most conservative treatment methods possible to help people reduce pain and achieve their highest level of function. I use a comprehensive approach to diagnosis and treatment and am committed to caring for my patients and improving the quality of their lives.”

    More about this expert

  • Trevor Wahlquist MD

    Trevor Wahlquist, M.D.

    “Ensuring people are living healthy and active lifestyles is important to me. I strive to work together with patients to find non-operative and operative solutions for their pain, getting them back to the activities and the people that matter most to them.”

    More about this expert

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