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Dynamic Chiropractic – February 10, 2003, Vol. 21, Issue 04

Crossed Wires

By Charles Masarsky, DC, FICC
For most patients, the idea of referred pain is not intuitive. The average person who feels elbow pain doesn't normally grab his or her cervical spine and yell, "Ouch!" There is a "sensible" but erroneous assumption out there that could be summarized as follows: "The locus of a pain is the locus of its cause." Unfortunately, even some health care providers buy into this false assumption, triggering all sorts of invasive diagnostic procedures in a fruitless effort to locate the problem in a normal, healthy body part.

A medical research team in the Czech Republic reported on 10 cases of testicular pain. The male subjects were fully examined by urologists, and no infections or diseases were found in their reproductive systems or urinary tracts. When their spines were examined, each one of these patients was found to have misalignments or restrictions (sub-luxations) in the portion of the spine just below the rib cage. After spinal manipulation, the testicular pain disappeared in all 10 patients.1

A similar phenomenon was reported by a U.S. team. In this instance, 18 women with breast pain underwent breast examinations (including mammograms, etc.), without any results noted. After subluxations in the neck were corrected, all 18 women recovered.1

Other researchers have reported on patients with pain seemingly located in the lungs, gall bladder and appendix. These organs were fully examined and found to be normal; the problem inevitably turned up in the spine.

False cardiac pain is widely reported in the clinical research literature: patients experience chest pain, difficulty in breathing, nausea and excessive sweating - classic danger signals of a heart attack. After a visit to the emergency room to rule out this most serious possibility, they often report rapid relief after spinal subluxations are corrected in the neck or upper back.

The technical term for a problem in one part of the body that creates pain somewhere else in the body is "referred pain." As the abovementioned research indicates, spinal subluxations can create a great deal of referred pain. This is probably caused by distortion of the huge amount of biological information processed through the spinal cord, as if the spine had its "wires crossed" when subluxation existed. Unfortunately, when the possibility of referred pain is not considered carefully by a physician, the patient may be subjected to hazardous and expensive tests and treatments on a perfectly normal organ.


  1. "Referred Pain and Related Phenomena: Selected Topics," in Somatovisceral Aspects of Chiropractic: An Evidence-Based Approach. CS Masarsky and M Todres-Masarsky, editors. Churchill Livingstone 2001.

Charles Masarsky, DC
Vienna, Virginia

Click here for previous articles by Charles Masarsky, DC, FICC.

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