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Have you noticed that you’ve become more sensitive to pain? Has your perception of pain changed over time? This may have more to do with an overactive nervous system than it has to do with your body actually experiencing more pain. Here’s what you need to know about something called central sensitization.

Did you know that pain can modify the way that the central nervous system (CNS) works? When the CNS becomes modified by pain, it’s often referred to as central sensitization. Central sensitization is when the CNS becomes regulated in a persistent high reactivity state. This means that what used to be a person’s pain threshold is often lowered and they experience pain with simple interactions such as touch. This also means that when they experience situations that are actually painful, the pain is amplified beyond normal. This sensitization can range from very mild to quite severe.

Central sensitization can be caused by anything that hurts the skin, muscles or organs. It can even be triggered by something as small as minor muscle damage. There is no clinical test for this phenomenon. It’s also difficult to diagnose in mild cases because everyone’s pain threshold is different, and you can’t compare one to another. But if you notice that pain threshold has changed, and things that should only cause some minor discomfort have started really bothering you, there is a way that you can find relief from this potential central sensitization; massage therapy.

 You may be wondering how massage, which involves touch, can help someone who is sensitive to touch. The answer; Gate Theory. So, when your body perceives that pain is occurring, that signal is sent to your brain, but has to pass through many “gates” before it reaches your brain. The Gate Theory suggests that when you’re experiencing pain, if you’re exposed to touch along those same nerve pathways, the touch signals will “block” those gates, essentially causing your brain to not perceive the pain as strongly. Along with that, the “feel good” hormones from the positive touch can override your brain’s perception of the pain, allowing you to finally feel some pain relief. Have you ever asked yourself why you have the instinct to hold or rub an area that’s suddenly experienced pain? Like grabbing your foot when you stub your toe, or holding your elbow after hitting it? Once you touch it, or even massage it for a minute, the pain goes away, or at least seems more tolerable? Same concept!

My focus in any massage session is your total relaxation and comfort. Each service is entirely about you, so be sure to tell me if you’re ever experiencing pain with anything I do, so I can adjust accordingly.

While each individual’s experience with this kind of overactive nervous system is different, it’s important to work with your health care provider as well as myself, to make sure we can get you the best care possible. You don’t have to live with pain. I can help!