Central Sensitization

What is it Central Sensitization?

Is a condition in which the central nervous system changes in response to chronic pain.

First of all there are two different types of pain.

Acute pain
Acute pain usually lasts for a short period of time and it is the bodies warning system for tissues damage. Pain receptors (nociceptors) found in the nerve endings detect harmful stimuli and this information feeds back into our central nervous system as pain.

Chronic pain
When pain lasts longer then when tissues damage is occurring or longer than expected for healing following a surgery, trauma or other condition then the pain has become chronic.

What causes Central Sensitization?

Chronic pain results in the central nervous system (the brain and the spinal cord) being bombarded with pain signals. Over time this can result in the nervous system actually becoming more sensitive and getting more pain with less provocation. This is called central sensitization.



How is Central sensitization evaluated?

There is no absolute diagnostic criteria for identifying the presence of central sensitization. However chronic pain can be a symptom of many other diseases and it can also be a disease in its own right.

Many conditions such as - Rheumatoid arthritis, Osteoarthritis, Temporomandibular disorders, Fibromyalgia, Miscellaneous Musculoskeletal Disorders, Headache, Neuropathic pain, Complex regional pain syndrome, Post-surgical pain and Visceral Pain Hypersensitivity Syndromes can all results in changes within the central nervous system that result in Central sensitization.

What is the treatment for Central sensitization?

If you are suffering from central sensitization or chronic pain, the pain you are experiencing is real. Treatment aims are to break the cycle of persistent chronic pain and the inflammation that contributes to the central sensitization.

Chiropractors, physiotherapists or osteopaths can help with any mechanical musculoskeletal issues. They may also recommend appropriate exercise or stretches and educate you as to the best ways help your condition.

Treatment is aimed to reduce pain, improve range of motion and function of the body which may- help you to feel better, relieve some of the symptoms of chronic pain and start help to reverse the effects of central sensitization.

As well as a manual therapists chronic pain programs can also be useful which can consist of education or cognitive behaviour therapy.

When pain is severe medications such as NSAIDs, anti-depressants or anti-convulsant medications have been used to break the cycle of pain (only if necessary). However if your pain is severe is it very important to see your doctor so that they can help to establish a suitable treatment plan for you.