PainSci summary of Woolf 2010?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★★★☆4-star ratings are for bigger/better studies and reviews published in more prestigious journals, with only quibbles. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.
Pain itself often modifies the way the central nervous system works, so that a patient actually becomes more sensitive and gets more pain with less provocation. That sensitization is called “central sensitization” because it involves changes in the central nervous system (CNS) in particular — the brain and the spinal cord. Victims are not only more sensitive to things that should hurt, but also to ordinary touch and pressure as well. Their pain also “echoes,” fading more slowly than in other people.
For a much more detailed summary of this paper, see Sensitization in Chronic Pain.
original abstract†Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.
Nociceptor inputs can trigger a prolonged but reversible increase in the excitability and synaptic efficacy of neurons in central nociceptive pathways, the phenomenon of central sensitization. Central sensitization manifests as pain hypersensitivity, particularly dynamic tactile allodynia, secondary punctate or pressure hyperalgesia, aftersensations, and enhanced temporal summation. It can be readily and rapidly elicited in human volunteers by diverse experimental noxious conditioning stimuli to skin, muscles or viscera, and in addition to producing pain hypersensitivity, results in secondary changes in brain activity that can be detected by electrophysiological or imaging techniques. Studies in clinical cohorts reveal changes in pain sensitivity that have been interpreted as revealing an important contribution of central sensitization to the pain phenotype in patients with fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, musculoskeletal disorders with generalized pain hypersensitivity, headache, temporomandibular joint disorders, dental pain, neuropathic pain, visceral pain hypersensitivity disorders and post-surgical pain. The comorbidity of those pain hypersensitivity syndromes that present in the absence of inflammation or a neural lesion, their similar pattern of clinical presentation and response to centrally acting analgesics, may reflect a commonality of central sensitization to their pathophysiology. An important question that still needs to be determined is whether there are individuals with a higher inherited propensity for developing central sensitization than others, and if so, whether this conveys an increased risk in both developing conditions with pain hypersensitivity, and their chronification. Diagnostic criteria to establish the presence of central sensitization in patients will greatly assist the phenotyping of patients for choosing treatments that produce analgesia by normalizing hyperexcitable central neural activity. We have certainly come a long way since the first discovery of activity-dependent synaptic plasticity in the spinal cord and the revelation that it occurs and produces pain hypersensitivity in patients. Nevertheless, discovering the genetic and environmental contributors to and objective biomarkers of central sensitization will be highly beneficial, as will additional treatment options to prevent or reduce this prevalent and promiscuous form of pain plasticity.
Specifically regarding Woolf 2010:
- PS Sensitization in Chronic Pain — Pain itself can change how pain works, resulting in more pain with less provocation
These fifteen articles on PainScience.com cite Woolf 2010 as a source:
- PS About PainScience.com — 19 years of publishing science-based advice about aches, pains, and injuries
- PS Deep Friction Massage Therapy for Tendinitis — A guide to a simple self-massage technique sometimes helpful in treating common tendinitis injuries like tennis elbow or Achilles tendinitis
- PS Trigger Points & Myofascial Pain Syndrome — A guide to the unfinished science of muscle pain, with reviews of every theory and self-treatment and therapy option
- PS A Guide to Sciatica Treatment for Patients — A guide to buttock and leg pain (which may or may not involve the sciatic nerve)
- PS Save Yourself from Low Back Pain! — Low back pain myths debunked and all your treatment options reviewed
- PS Save Yourself from Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome! — Patellofemoral pain syndrome (aka runner’s knee) explained and discussed in great detail, including every imaginable self-treatment option and all the available scientific evidence
- PS Save Yourself from Plantar Fasciitis! — Plantar fasciitis explained in great detail, including every possible treatment option, and all supported by recent scientific research
- PS Save Yourself from Neck Pain! — A complete guide to chronic neck pain and the disturbing sensation of a “crick”
- PS Pain is Weird — Pain science reveals a volatile, misleading sensation that is often more than just a symptom, and sometimes worse than whatever started it
- PS The Pain & Therapy Bibliography — A unique database of scientific sources about musculoskeletal pain, injury & treatment, constantly updated & annotated since 1997
- PS Pseudo-Quackery in the Treatment of Pain — The large, dangerous gray zone between evidence-based care and overt quackery in musculoskeletal and pain medicine
- PS Massage Therapy Side Effects — What could possibly go wrong with massage? The risks and side effects of massage therapy are usually mild, but “deep tissue” massage can cause trouble
- PS Tissue Provocation Therapies — Can healing be forced? The laws of tissue adaptation & therapies like prolotherapy & Graston Technique
- PS Frozen Shoulder Guide — An extremely detailed & readable guide to one of the strangest of all common musculoskeletal problems, for both patients and pros
This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights:
- A Bayesian model-averaged meta-analysis of the power pose effect with informed and default priors: the case of felt power. Gronau 2017 Comprehensive Results in Social Psychology.
- The neck and headaches. Bogduk 2014 Neurol Clin.
- Agreement of self-reported items and clinically assessed nerve root involvement (or sciatica) in a primary care setting. Konstantinou 2012 Eur Spine J.
- Effect of NSAIDs on Recovery From Acute Skeletal Muscle Injury: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Morelli 2017 Am J Sports Med.
- Association of Spinal Manipulative Therapy With Clinical Benefit and Harm for Acute Low Back Pain: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Paige 2017 JAMA.