Pain often modifies the way that the central nervous system works, so that a patient may become more sensitive and experience more pain with less and less provocation. This is referred to as “central sensitization,” as it involves changes in the central nervous system, the brain and the spinal cord in particular.
Sensitized patients are typically more sensitive to things that are “supposed” to hurt, as well as to ordinary pressure and “touch.” Their pain also has a tendency to echo, fading away more slowly than it does in others.
Because pain is a “warning system,” central sensitization is a disease of over-reaction to threats to the organism: a hyperactive warning system. Far too many patients end up experiencing even more pain in their quest to alleviate it.
A recent study that was presented at the annual meeting of the American Urogynecologic Society showed that nerves in an organ that is under real distress might “leak” information to a nearby organ.
Because of this, the brain is unable to determine and/or process where the message (and the pain) is originating. This is important to note, as patients are often told that there is nothing structurally wrong with the organ from which the pain seems to come. The study focused on patients who experienced chronic pelvic pain.
The study supports the view that inflammation in one of the pelvic organs may lead to symptoms in other organs through “cross-sensitization.” This is a process in which a prior exposure to a stimulus increases a subsequent response to this, as well as another, different stimulus. It plays a significant role in how patients experience chronic pain. Reversing the ongoing spiraling distress cycle is difficult.
However, a seasoned pain management professional can harness their understanding of this process in order to determine how and why patients are experiencing pain. This enables them to select an appropriate therapy to treat both the root cause of the pain and the symptom of cross-sensitized pain elsewhere.
Whether you are experiencing central sensitization or cross-sensitization, or your pain derives from the true location of physical distress, it is a good idea to be kind to your central nervous system by taking steps to make your life less stressful. Reducing upsetting stimuli will give your central nervous system a bit of a break and might help diminish the perceived severity of pain. At a fundamental level, pain is tied to your brain’s assessment of safety. Cultivating peacefulness and “life balance” sets a solid foundation for the rest of the recovery process.
Pain Care Clinic of Idaho offers a wide range of therapies for effective treatment of chronic pain, including Scrambler Therapy, InterX Therapy, and medical acupuncture, along with lifestyle counseling to help improve your quality of life. Call us for a consultation: 208-939-3750.