Stuck in the Middle With You: Why a Broad-Brush Approach to Defining Central Sensitization Does Not Help Clinicians and Patients

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Authors: Timothée Cayrol, PT, MSc , Jerry Draper-Rodi, DProf, DO , Laurent Fabre, DO , Laurent Pitance, PT, PhD , Emanuel N. van den Broeke, PhD
Journal: Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy


Central sensitization is (1) increasingly interpreted as central nervous system hyperexcitability that accounts for a general increase in sensitivity, and (2) used to explain a variety of pain and nonpain symptoms. In this commentary, we argue that such a broad interpretation might not be clinically useful because it fails to distinguish one patient from another based on pathophysiological mechanisms and does not facilitate tailored treatment. We recommend that clinicians use a person-centered approach when assessing and managing patients, considering the different interacting processes/mechanisms that can contribute to a patient’s clinical presentation.

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