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Peripheral and Central Sensitization of the Nervous System

When someone experiences chronic pelvic pain and dysfunction, his or her nervous system can enter into a state of constant overdrive. The firing rate of nerves increases and all of the patient’s senses are heightened, including the sense of pain. Things that may be mildly painful for most people can be extremely painful for chronic pain patients – even a light touch can cause pain.

According to Clifford Woolf, a leading pain researcher, pain itself actually can change the way the central nervous system works. The more pain a person feels (particularly chronic pain) the more sensitive they become. People can even feel more pain with less stimulation. Woolf calls this effect on the central nervous system “central sensitization.” He says that, for these people, pain also can “echo,” meaning that the pain takes longer to ease.

Causes Of Central Sensitization

The causes of central sensitization can include stroke and spinal cord injury, but it can be involved in many chronic pain disorders, from low back pain, neck pain, tension headaches and migraines to arthritis and fibromyalgia. Sensitization may also be involved in a number of conditions affecting the pelvic region such as endometriosis and irritable bowel diseases, among others.

Signs and Symptoms Of Central Sensitization

Central sensitization can cause people to be sensitive in other ways in addition to pain. They can become sensitive to light, sounds or odors. They can become emotionally sensitive, and a constant state of anxiety is not uncommon. Central sensitization is also associated with poor concentration and short-term memory problems.

Central Sensitization Risk Factors

Delayed treatment could cause Central Sensitization to get worse or be the cause of central sensitization.  A sensitive nervous system and anxiety and stress from your surroundings a job or a natural cause could lead to problems outside of central sensitization.


Patient safety is our utmost priority at Pelvic Rehabilitation Medicine.

Meet Pelvic Rehabilitation Medicine

At Pelvic Rehabilitation Medicine, we treat whole human beings, not symptoms. In the body, everything is connected; and the pelvic region is the vital center of the body’s connected functioning. Our physicians take an innovative approach, combining traditional medicine with holistic modalities and rehabilitative medicine. We treat both male and female patients who experience core muscle and nerve problems; chronic pelvic pain; and pelvic floor muscle dysfunction. Learn More »

Relevant Publications/Citations

Allyson Augusta Shrikhande, MD. Interviewee on Pelvic Health Summit - CPPS. Pelvic Health Summit. 2018 May. Link to Interview.

Allyson Shrikhande, MD sits as the chair of the Medical Education Committee for the International Pelvic Pain Society. Link to Medical Committee.

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Practice Safety Protocol

The health and safety of our patients and employees is Pelvic Rehabilitation Medicine’s top priority. While remaining open, our Team is strictly adhering to the recommendations offered by the CDC, and our disinfecting policies are meticulously executed in each of our offices. We assure you a healthy, safe environment while bringing you the exceptional healthcare you deserve. 

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