Intriguing ways in which
Have you heard of the modern saying ‘Malithta gahaddi Chanchala adanawa’ (Chanchala crying when Malith is being punished)? There is a similar occurrence that we can relate to when talking about physical pain, from a medical perspective.
Have you felt warning signals such as pain in the left arm or jaw? This may be a sign of a heart attack! Similarly, a disorder in the gallbladder can surface first in the form of pain in the right shoulder tip. Similarly a problem related to the pancreas can begin with back pain. This phenomenon is called ‘referred pain’ in medicine. Why does a seemingly unrelated site respond to a problem present in another side of the body? This is just another example of Mother Nature’s sense of humor. We’ll explore more about the topic in this week’s segment titled ‘Interesting Medicine’.
In order to understand this, you’ll have to have a very basic understanding about the transmission of pain in the body. The nerves carrying the sensation of pain go towards the spinal cord. It is there that the signal is given to one of the intermediate ‘transmission centres’. They carry the signal upwards to the respective area of the brain. This is the process that makes us aware of pain. These transmission centers are situated in the spinal cord, surrounded by the vertebrae. The meeting place in these ‘transmission centres’ for nerves from various parts of the body is different. In the spinal cord, these ‘meeting places’ are named according to the level of respective vertebrae covering them.
Never take lightly a sudden onset persistent pain in the jaw, upper left or even right arms because these might be the first warning signs of a heart attack
The skin and the internal organs of the body are innervated by different nerves in the body. But sometimes, both these nerves end up in the same ‘transmission center’ of the spinal cord.
Now comes the interesting part. Think of two siblings, one very subdued and the other always getting into trouble. Say the subdued, calm one broke a vase when nobody was looking. The parents are going to jump to the conclusion that it was the mischievous one who did it, since he is usually the culprit, right? Scientists are theorizing that it’s what causes the pain in your arm and jaw, when actually the problem lies in your heart. When the heart, which doesn’t usually give out pain signals, sends a signal, the spinal cord, which is used to receiving all sorts of pain signals from mosquito bites to abrasions from the skin, assumes that the skin nerves are the culprit. It then sends the message to the brain. So your brain, in turn gives you wrong information saying that ‘hey, your jaw is paining’.
While being entertained by the interesting way that the brain itself can be made a fool of, never take lightly a sudden onset persistent pain in the jaw, upper left or even right arms because these might be the first warning signs of a heart attack. You could save a life by being alert and by directing a person to seek early treatment.