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Central sensitization occurs when a person becomes more sensitive to pain. The central nervous system is made up of the brain and the spinal cord. Abnormalities in the way the central nervous system processes pain may be responsible for the symptoms experienced in chronic pain disorders.
Doctors aren't really sure what causes central sensitization disorders, but most agree that the brains of people who have it sense pain differently. Because the central nervous system is in a persistent state of hyperactivity, the patient may experience pain with things that aren’t normally painful, or have increased sensitivity to a painful stimuli.
Central sensitization can lead to heightened sensitivities across all senses, not just the sense of touch. Patients can sometimes have sensitivities to lights, odors and sounds. Patients may have poor concentration or poor short-term memory. Increased levels of emotional distress, particularly anxiety may also be associated with central sensitization.
Some cases of centralized pain seem to be triggered by an event — like an infection or illness, physical injury, or emotional upset. Genetic factors also might play a role.
Although central sensitization disorders are a chronic condition, its symptoms may come and go. They can be mild at times, and at other times so severe that they interfere with normal activities. Many kids with chronic pain can attend school regularly, but their abilities vary depending upon the severity of their symptoms.
Symptoms of central sensitization disorders include:
Treatment for chronic pain that involves central sensitization typically targets the central nervous system or the corresponding inflammation. The focus is on managing the pain and other symptoms. This often involves a combination of medicines and lifestyle changes, such as exercise, relaxation, and stress-management techniques.
If your child is suffering from pain, you probably have lots of questions. We can help. If you would like to schedule an appointment, refer a patient or speak to our staff, please call our offices at 682-885-7246.