Sunbreak explains the nerve disorder affecting 30 million Americans
Thirty million people in the United States suffer from a condition that causes chronic pain, but conventional medical testing doesn’t show the source of the problem. Central sensitization syndrome (CSS) stems from a dysfunction in the nervous system, where over-reactive nerves send exaggerated pain signals. Chronic back, neck, and stomach pain, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, migraines, and bladder pain are types of CSS.
A new book sheds light on the condition, including how stress can escalate the pains. Sunbreak(fall 2023) by Dr. Shana Johnson, explains CSS and the reasons the conditions are so difficult to diagnose. Dr Johnson, a board-certified physical medicine and rehabilitation physician, shares the process and tools she found helpful in healing herself and others.
“It’s like revving your car’s engine constantly. At some point, it’s going to break down,” explains Dr. Johnson. “Under high stress, the body’s weakest link breaks. This is complicated by central sensitization, an abnormal process in the brain that intensifies pain.”
Central sensitization syndrome isn’t easily seen. Conventional MRIs and x-rays don’t show nerves that are overly reactive. Dr. Johnson has helped CSS sufferers find the help they need, after years of being dismissed by providers who didn’t understand sensitization. Often, these patients were led to believe they were imagining their symptoms.
The solution, she explains, begins with the correct diagnosis and understanding of the nervous system’s role in the condition.
“You have to be looking for the specific signs,” she notes. “And each situation is unique. We treat the source of the initial injury, like a back injury, and then the sensitization. You can’t be effective without the combination.”
In Sunbreak, Dr. Johnson explains how the nerves become sensitized, the role of stress in the dysfunction, and various treatment options tailored to the individual. She follows the wellness journeys of several patients, each with a different stress-related disorder or sensitization syndrome—from migraines and chronic back pain to panic attacks and depression.
Sunbreak will be released in fall 2023. For more information, visit askdrshana.com.
Sunbreak cover art Debra Van Tuinen, VanTuinenart.com