Nociplastic pain and central sensitization: Terminology update

Young woman with chronic pain holding her neck while sitting in front of a laptop

Our understanding of chronic pain phenotypes and related mechanisms continues to evolve…

Suffering from acute pain after an injury is beneficial to us as humans because it ensures that we protect damaged (or potentially damaged) tissue during healing. However, once time has elapsed and pain is in the chronic state (i.e. more than 3 months in duration), the protective role of pain is believed to be diminished. Compounding the experience of pain during the chronic stage are maladaptive sequelae which largely impact the individual and society. Research has enabled both clinicians and scientists to understand the role of the central nervous system, which creates the scaffold for these maladaptive sequelae.

Essentially, central sensitization of nociceptive circuits within the CNS are purported to explain the generation and amplification of persistent pain experiences. To that end, the goal of this article is to elucidate how central sensitization serves as a chief explanation for persistent pain.

Comprehending central sensitization and identifying its presence in pain conditions is crucial within the framework of chronic pain management, as it might provide direction for treatment strategies.

From Dr. Thistle: If you are interested in learning more about chronic pain phenotypes and how these can help inform patient care, I encourage you to take the 10-hour, on-demand E-Seminar I produced, presented by Dr. Demetry Assimakopoulos (The “Chronic Pain Chiro”):

All Aboard the Pain Train: A Chiropractors Guide to Chronic Pain

RESEARCH REVIEW: Nociplastic Pain and Central Sensitization in Patients with Chronic Pain Conditions

This paper was published in the Brazilian Journal of Physical Therapy (2023)

You can now purchase single Research Reviews for only $4.99 – Get access to this review here

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