Central sensitization plays an important role in the pathophysiology of numerous musculoskeletal pain disorders, yet it remains unclear how manual therapists can recognize this condition. Therefore, mechanism based clinical guidelines for the recognition of central sensitization in patients with musculoskeletal pain are provided. By using our current understanding of central sensitization during the clinical assessment of patients with musculoskeletal pain, manual therapists can apply the science of nociceptive and pain processing neurophysiology to the practice of manual therapy. The diagnosis/assessment of central sensitization in individual patients with musculoskeletal pain is not straightforward, however manual therapists can use information obtained from the medical diagnosis, combined with the medical history of the patient, as well as the clinical examination and the analysis of the treatment response in order to recognize central sensitization. The clinical examination used to recognize central sensitization entails the distinction between primary and secondary hyperalgesia.
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