Recognition and Treatment of Central Sensitization in Chronic Pain Patients: Not Limited to Specialized Care

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2016 Dec;46(12):1024-1028. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2016.0612.


Modern pain neuroscience has substantially improved our understanding of the (development of) chronic musculoskeletal pain. The time has come for orthopaedic and sports physical therapists to implement modern pain neuroscience in specialized, but definitely also in primary, care settings, including the role of central sensitization (CS) in amplifying and explaining the presence of the pain experience. Central sensitization dominates the clinical picture in a subgroup of the musculoskeletal pain population, ranging from tennis elbow over shoulder pain to osteoarthritis and whiplash. Applying modern pain neuroscience to clinical practice implies (1) recognizing those patients having predominant CS pain, and (2) accounting for CS when designing the treatment plan in those with predominant CS pain. Future work in this area should (1) examine the validity of the proposed clinical classification algorithm for identifying CS pain in patients with orthopaedic and sports injuries, and (2) explore evidence-based treatment options for patients having predominant CS pain. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2016;46(12):1024-1028. doi:10.2519/jospt.2016.0612.

Keywords: central sensitization; chronic pain; pain management.

MeSH terms

  • Central Nervous System Sensitization / physiology*
  • Chronic Pain / physiopathology*
  • Chronic Pain / psychology
  • Humans
  • Musculoskeletal Pain / diagnosis
  • Musculoskeletal Pain / therapy*
  • Neuralgia / diagnosis
  • Neuralgia / therapy*
  • Nociception
  • Orthopedics
  • Pain Measurement
  • Sports Medicine