|Posted on February 13, 2018 at 1:50 PM|
What is Central Sensitization?
Central sensitization syndrome (CSS) is a condition of the nervous system that is associated with the development and maintenance of chronic pain. When central sensitization occurs, the nervous system goes through a process called wind-up and gets regulated in a persistent state of high reactivity. This persistent, or regulated, state of reactivity lowers the threshold for what causes pain and subsequently comes to maintain pain even after the initial injury might have healed.
Central sensitization has two main characteristics. Although these are not essential to diagnose CSS, both involve a heightened sensitivity to pain and the sensation of touch. They are called allodynia and hyperalgesia. Allodynia occurs when a person experiences pain with things that are normally not painful. For example, chronic pain patients often experience pain even with things as simple as touch or massage. In such cases, nerves (called interneurons which are not normally turned on but are on high alert in patients with CSS) in the area that was touched sends signals through the nervous system to the brain. Because the nervous system is in a persistent state of heightened reactivity, the brain doesn't produce a mild sensation of touch as it should. Rather, the brain produces a sensation of pain and discomfort. Hyperalgesia occurs when a stimulus that is typically painful is perceived as more painful than it should. An example might be when a simple bump, which ordinarily might be mildly painful, sends the chronic pain patient through the roof with pain. Again, when the nervous system is in a persistent state of high reactivity, it produces pain that is amplified.
This exercise can be done standing up or sitting down, and pretty much anywhere at any time. If you can sit down in the meditation (lotus) position, that's great, if not, no worries.
Either way, all you have to do is be still and focus on your breath for just one minute.
1 Start by breathing in and out slowly. One breath cycle should last for approximately 6 seconds.
2 Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, letting your breath flow effortlessly in and out of your body.
3 Let go of your thoughts. Let go of things you have to do later today or pending projects that need your attention. Simply let thoughts rise and fall of their own accord and be at one with your breath.
4 Purposefully watch your breath, focusing your sense of awareness on its pathway as it enters your body and fills you with life.
5 Then watch with your awareness as it works work its way up and out of your mouth and its energy dissipates into the world.
Throughout the month of February give your mindful breathing a try. Schedule yourself time or on the fly. It may be difficult at first to let go of wandering thoughts and focus on one thing your breath. Try not to get frustrated just relax and try again later or the next day. The more you practice the easier it will become.