Neuroplasticity-based multi-modal desensitization as treatment for central sensitization syndrome: A 3-phase experimental pilot group


Author: Megan Hughes
Page Range: 67-74
Published in: Journal of Pain Management, 16#1 (2023)
ISSN: 1939-5914

Table of Contents


Central sensitization syndromes (CSS) refer to a group of conditions caused by disregulation of the central nervous system (CNS) leading to sensitization of multiple systems of the body. Symptoms typically include pain, inflammation, rashes, brain fog, fatigue, depression, anxiety, hypersensitivity to sensory stimuli, muscle stiffness, dizziness and heart arrhythmia. To date, there is no known treatment to ameliorate symptoms of central sensitization. This experimental group consisted of five volunteers unable to work or pursue careers due to debilitating symptoms. The group was structured in three phases, each phase consisting of eight weekly topics presented via remote video; meetings comprised psychoeducational discussion, and CBT and neuroplasticity-based exercises. Participants completed the Brief Pain Inventory, the Illness Perception Questionnaire and the CSS Inventory at onset, six months, 12 months and six months post-group. Results showed that volunteers who were able to engage with all homework activities had improved in physical stamina, energy levels, anxiety, and hypersensitivity. At 8 months 75% of volunteers had resumed physical activities such as hiking, yoga and pilates. Data at six month post-group showed some slight decline, but all participants maintained higher levels of improvement than at baseline.

Keywords: Central sensitization syndrome, chronic pain, chronic illness, exposure therapy, savouring, qigong

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