Treatment of Central Sensitization in Patients With Rheumatoid Arthritis: a Narrative Overview

L. Meert, R.J.E.M. Smeets, I. Baert, M. Mertens, A. Boonen, M. Meeus*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Purpose of reviewCentral sensitization (CS) is present in a variety of chronic pain conditions including rheumatoid arthritis (RA). An overview of the treatment options for desensitizing the central nervous system in RA patients, with CS as their dominant pain mechanism, is provided.Recent findingsThe treatment of pain in RA patients has mostly focused on treating inflammation to indirectly treat pain. Unfortunately, little research has focused on treating CS, which appears to be present in some patients with RA.Summary"Treating the brain without ignoring the joints" should be the leading principle in the management of CS in RA patients. Pain neuroscience education, graded activity, and a time-contingent exercise approach are important interventions to implement in clinical practice. Further research is necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of these promising treatments for diminishing hyperexcitability of the central nervous system in RA patients with CS as their dominant pain mechanism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-189
Number of pages11
JournalCurrent Treatment Options in Rheumatology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2019


  • Central sensitization
  • Chronic pain
  • Pain processing
  • Central nervous system sensitization
  • rheumatoid arthritis

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