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Sensitive Nervous System
It is very common to have a sensitive nervous system.
Medicine works through deductive reasoning, which means there are special tests done to ‘rule out’ specific conditions. If you have seen a physician that can’t help explain ‘what’ is causing your symptoms, you may have a sensitive nervous system.
Ask yourself the following questions
- Are my symptoms spreading?
- Do I have pins and needles?
- Do I have burning pain?
- Is my pain increased by small movements?
- Is my pain increased for no particular reason?
- Do small things cause flare-ups that lasts for days?
- Do stress and anxiety increase my pain?
- Do I have mirror pains: the exact same pain is starting to occur on the opposite side of my body?
- Do I have pain at night?
- Do I have difficulty sleeping because of my pain?
If you have answered “yes” to at least three of these questions, you likely have a sensitive nervous system.
There are different types of pain, and understanding pain has been shown to reduce the threat of the pain you are experiencing and help you on the road to healing. The next step in your healing journey is to educate yourself about persistent pain (link).
If you have difficulty sleeping, there are many good resources to help. If you are not sleeping well, and do not feel rested when you wake up, then it is very important to address your sleeping issues. Otherwise, it will be very difficult for your body to recover.
When your nervous system is sensitive, doing activities that connect the mind and body have been shown to be effective in calming sensitive nervous systems. Let’s look at a couple different types of activities that have been shown to positively affect the nervous system when you have persistent pain.
- Can decrease sympathetic nervous system activity (also known as our fight or flight stress response).
- Can reduce inflammation.
- Can reduce stress markers (cortisol) in the body.
- Can increase both flexibility and strength, which will decrease the danger signals coming into the brain from weak and tight tissues.
- Can improve circulation, ultimately helping to relax the muscles.
- Can increase the frequency of positive emotions.
- Can improve pain control.
Resources for Learning More About Yoga Are
- Exerts control over both pain and emotion.
- In one study, people who practiced meditation for 30 years showed 40-50% lower brain response to painful stimuli compared with healthy controls.
- Been shown to be a great antidote to heart disease.
- Slows down your breathing, allowing you to focus on your breath and ultimately control your pain.
Resources for Learning More About Meditation Are
- insight timer app for your phone
- Apps: Calm, Oprah and Deepak, Headspace
Qi Gong and Tai Chi
- Qi Gong increases awareness of the body.
- Helps with body mapping, which strengthens the connection between sensation and movement in the brain.
- Helps facilitate deep abdominal breathing in an active, yet calm way.
- Loosens up the thoracic spine (mid-back) and regulates the autonomic nervous system.
- Teaches you to move without tension, which helps to clear internal stress.
Resources for Learning More About Tai Chi and Qi Gong Are
- We also recommend looking up your local Taoist Society for Tai Chi classes.
- Allows for individual exploration into belief patterns and movement patterns that may be contributing to your pain.
- Increases body awareness without judgement.
- Carrico et al (2009) demonstrated 45% improvement in pain scores and episodes of urgency in women with interstitial cystitis with guided relaxation.
Resources for Learning More About Guided Relaxation Are
Patients who have a sensitive nervous system should consider choosing at least one of the above activities, and practice it at least 30 minutes per day, every day.