Central Sensitization

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Definition:

Central, in this context, refers to the central nervous system, which comprises the brain and nerves of the spinal cord. This system regulates how your body responds to signals from the rest of the body.

Sensitization is a gradual change in how your body reacts to a particular substance or stimuli. In the immune system, sensitization results in an allergy. In the central nervous system, the result is called a sensitivity.

This is often described as a constant "wind up" that keeps your central nervous system on alert at all times.

In central sensitization, the entire central nervous system becomes sensitized to certain stimuli. Reactions to those stimuli can include:

  • Headache,
  • Nausea,
  • Dizziness,
  • Irritation,
  • Pain,
  • A general increase in symptoms, when they're tied to an illness.

Central sensitization is a proposed mechanism for many of the symptoms of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, including the way the body amplifies pain signals.

In these conditions, problem stimuli can include:

Conditions believed to involve central sensitization are classified as central sensitivity syndromes.

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