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Understanding Nociplastic Pain: Fibromyalgia, IBS & CRPS

burden of chronic pain

Are you experiencing chronic pain that feels out of proportion to any injury? 

You could be dealing with nociplastic pain, a complex but treatable condition. This blog post dives into the world of nociplastic pain, explaining what it is, how it develops, and the most effective strategies to manage it.


What is Nociplastic Pain?

Think of nociplastic pain as having the volume knob for pain perception cranked up way too high. Unlike typical pain caused by tissue damage, nociplastic pain arises from dysfunctional pain processing in the central nervous system. It's like the wires between your nerves and brain get crossed, resulting in distorted and amplified pain signals.

Keywords: nociplastic pain, chronic pain, central nervous system pain, pain processing


Causes of Nociplastic Pain

brain scan

The exact causes are still under investigation, but research suggests a combination of factors plays a role:

  • Peripheral sensitization: When sensory nerves become hypersensitive due to inflammation, injuries, or even stress.

  • Central sensitization: Over time, these amplified pain signals can rewire the spinal cord and brain, making them hypersensitive as well.

  • Brain plasticity: Chronic pain can cause the brain's pain centers to become "rewired" in a way that maintains the hypersensitive state.

  • Psychological factors: Stress, anxiety, and negative thoughts about pain can worsen nociplastic pain through the mind-body connection.


Symptoms of Nociplastic Pain

People with nociplastic pain often experience a range of symptoms, including:

  • Widespread and constant pain: This pain is often described as severe and migrating, moving around the body.

  • Pain out of proportion to injury: The intensity of the pain seems much greater than any apparent cause.

  • Fatigue, sleep problems, and mood issues: Chronic pain can significantly impact sleep quality, energy levels, and mood, leading to anxiety and depression.

  • Increased pain sensitivity: Even light touch, temperature changes, or mild activity can be perceived as painful.

Diagnosing Nociplastic Pain

Diagnosing nociplastic pain can be challenging because there's no specific test. Doctors will typically rule out other conditions through a physical exam, medical history review, and sometimes imaging or nerve conduction studies. They'll be looking for unexplained, widespread pain that seems amplified compared to any physical findings. Unfortunately, this lack of a definitive test can lead to delays in diagnosis and treatment.


Treating Nociplastic Pain

exercise

There's no single cure for nociplastic pain, but a multi-pronged approach targeting various factors can significantly improve management:


  • Medications: Certain medications can help dampen pain signals and calm overactive nerves. Antidepressants and anticonvulsants are often used for this purpose. Opioids are generally not recommended for nociplastic pain as they can worsen symptoms in the long run.

  • Exercise: Gentle exercise is a crucial part of nociplastic pain management. It helps reduce inflammation, improve mood, and interrupt chronic pain signaling. Aerobic activities and strength training are often recommended.

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is a form of therapy that equips patients with coping mechanisms to break negative pain cycles and improve self-management. Techniques like relaxation training, activity pacing, and cognitive reframing can be very effective.

  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): ACT is all about learning how to flexibly react to events inside (like pain) or outside of your body. This allows you to live your life in a direction that you can truly value, finding purpose and meaning.

  • Emotional Awareness and Expression: Since emotions and pain are closely linked and play an important part in how we experience pain it’s not astonishing that science found that a training in emotional awareness (knowing which emotions just shows up) followed by the suited expression of it is also linked to pain reduction.

  • Mind-Body Practices: Stress reduction techniques like meditation, yoga, tai chi, deep breathing, and even self-hypnosis can promote relaxation and reduce pain perception.

  • Lifestyle Changes: Getting enough sleep, eating an anti-inflammatory diet, maintaining good posture, and practicing stress management techniques are all essential for promoting healing and preventing flare-ups.

Living with Nociplastic Pain

Nociplastic pain can be a challenge, but understanding the science behind it empowers you to take control of your condition. By working with a healthcare professional who is knowledgeable about nociplastic pain and implementing a comprehensive treatment plan, you can find significant relief and improve your quality of life.


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Pain.Pause.Live. is here to help you on a psychological side, providing coaching based on cutting edge psychological science, so you can be able to deal better with the pain and enjoy life again. If you're interested, book a free discovery call by clicking on the button below.




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