Cision PR Newswire

Ask Dr. Shana: Nerve Sensitization is a Missed Cause of Misery

Nerve sensitization is a serious and underdiagnosed stress-related condition.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., Jan. 25, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Severe headaches, digestive issues, and chronic neck and back pain can result when stress isn't properly identified and managed. Known as central sensitization syndromes (CSS), the debilitating conditions are often missed by traditional healthcare practices, leading to a long-lasting disability.

Under high stress, the body's weakest link breaks, which may mean headaches, back pain, or digestive issues. With sensitization, the nerves are more sensitive to stimuli. The nerves and the brain relay the message of extreme pain. The physical impact of touch, pressure, and movement are heightened in a person with nerve sensitization.

In addition to the pain, symptoms can include fatigue, brain fog, disrupted sleep, and sensitivity to light, sound, and smells. According to Dr. Johnson, CSS sufferers struggle to get through their work day, their energy levels half of before. Difficulties concentrating make the work they do get through harder. 

Dr. Shana Johnson, a board-certified physical medicine and rehabilitation physician, specializes in treating these disorders. Her interest arose from her own bout with a stress-related disorder. 

"I can personally relate to my patients' pain and emotional distress," explains Dr. Johnson. "I had very real symptoms of agonizing pain. Conventional tests weren't able to show what was wrong. Initially, providers dismissed my symptoms. I had to put the pieces together for myself." 

She adds that when nerve sensitization is missed, people often seek out opioids, because they are confused and desperate for relief. 

A physician heals herself

When her symptoms began, Dr. Johnson was working in neurology, treating people with conditions that impact the brain, spine, and nerves. She managed a clinic for multiple sclerosis and also treated traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and stroke survivors. Her work and her personal physical pain prompted Dr. Johnson to further explore the science behind what she knew was a true medical condition.

"With CSS, the patient feels pain more easily, more intensely, and in more places. For example, you might lift a 50-pound box and feel a pull in your back. A CSS sufferer lifts a 25-pound box and the pain is excruciating." explains Dr. Johnson, author of the forthcoming book on the subject, Sunbreak.

"There are many ways to manage the symptoms of CSS," Dr. Shana Johnson concludes. "But it starts with seeking help from a provider who understands the condition."

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SOURCE Ask Dr Shana

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