When we have discomfort, the over-riding impulse is to identify exactly what hurts. Actually, the "what" question is much easier that the "why" question. Here are two examples of when the actual cause isn't what we feel at the time.
TMJ issues and Neck Pain
Imagine that you have multiple tender areas in the muscles of the neck. What you might guess is that you have neck tension, but nothing seems to help. Although you may not put them together, my staff might ask you about any tension in the muscles of the jaw you might not have noticed. Why? Problems in the muscles of the jaw often increase the tension level of the muscles of the neck, which then presents as neck discomfort.
In one research study, subjects with advanced arthritis of the jaw were given an injection to anesthetize the joint. Where one would expect the relief to occur is in the area immediately surrounding the joint. In fact, where the greatest relief occurred is in the muscles of the neck!
Thoracic Restriction and Low Back Pain
Pain in the low back is far more common than pain in the thoracic spine (mid-back). There is however, a good deal of evidence that restriction in the thoracic spine can lead to pain in the low back. Here's why.
The low back is built for stability, not mobility. Rotation of the whole low back is less than ten degrees! The thoracic spine is ideally suited to rotate to more than fifty degrees. If your thoracic rotation is restricted and you are trying to create rotation, such as to swing a golf club or tennis racket, you will try to accomplish that action by rotating your low back instead. This will result in low back pain, but all the treatment of the back will ultimately fail.
What the mid-back cannot do, the low back tries to accomplish. This is not going to go well!
Strangely, symptoms are not always felt in the problem source such as the low back or jaw, only in the area that overworks to compensate. The staff at BWA is very mindful of these relationships and wants to address not only the symptom, but the possible cause.