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bibliography * The PainScience Bibliography contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers and others sources, like a specialized blog. This page is about a single scientific paper in the bibliography, Nijs 2011.

Guidelines for explaining central sensitization in cases of “unexplained” pain

updated
Nijs J, Paul van Wilgen C, Van Oosterwijck J, van Ittersum M, Meeus M. How to explain central sensitization to patients with 'unexplained' chronic musculoskeletal pain: practice guidelines. Man Ther. 2011 Oct;16(5):413–8. PubMed #21632273.
Tags: treatment, sensitization, self-treatment, biology, chronic pain, etiology, mind, back pain, neurology, pain problems, pro, spine

PainSci summary of Nijs 2011?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. ★★★☆☆?3-star ratings are for typical studies with no more (or less) than the usual common problems. 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.

This is an expert opinion piece echoing some of the tenets of the “explain pain” movement (see also: Moseley).

original abstractAbstracts 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.

Central sensitization provides an evidence-based explanation for many cases of 'unexplained' chronic musculoskeletal pain. Prior to commencing rehabilitation in such cases, it is crucial to change maladaptive illness perceptions, to alter maladaptive pain cognitions and to reconceptualise pain. This can be accomplished by patient education about central sensitization and its role in chronic pain, a strategy known as pain physiology education. Pain physiology education is indicated when: 1) the clinical picture is characterized and dominated by central sensitization; and 2) maladaptive illness perceptions are present. Both are prerequisites for commencing pain physiology education. Face-to-face sessions of pain physiology education, in conjunction with written educational material, are effective for changing pain cognitions and improving health status in patients with various chronic musculoskeletal pain disorders. These include patients with chronic low back pain, chronic whiplash, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. After biopsychosocial assessment pain physiology education comprises of a first face-to-face session explaining basic pain physiology and contrasting acute nociception versus chronic pain (Session 1). Written information about pain physiology should be provided as homework in between session 1 and 2. The second session can be used to correct misunderstandings, and to facilitate the transition from knowledge to adaptive pain coping during daily life. Pain physiology education is a continuous process initiated during the educational sessions and continued within both the active treatment and during the longer term rehabilitation program.

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One article on PainScience.com cites Nijs 2011 as a source:


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: