In this post, we discuss two important terms, ‘neuroplasticity’ and ‘central sensitization’. Neuroplasticity refers to the amazing ability of the brain to change and adapt in response to interactions of a person with his/her environment. Implicit in this explanation is that there are actual physiological changes that occur between neurons (i.e. nerve cells) within the brain in terms of new or altered connections. Central sensitization refers to changes that occur within the central nervous system (i.e. brain and spinal cord) that are associated with the development and maintenance of chronic pain. Stated another way, the central nervous system is in a heightened state of readiness such that non-painful stimuli result in often excruciating pain. So how are these two terms related? It is likely that central sensitization is a function of the neuroplasticity. In other words, there are changes that occur within the brain and spinal cord when someone suffers from pain for a long time and allows those painful sensations to remain.
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