Centralization and Peripheralization
Centralization and Peripheralization are 2 words I used to use everyday, multiple times a day but haven’t used them in 3 years. I can’t believe I never did a blog post about this before. This used to be my thing. I just used those words again helping out someone with neck pain and it was weird. Here’s what they mean. So your shoulder hurts. Now, a lot of people, including doctors, will tell you that something is wrong with your shoulder. Sometimes yes but more often than not the pain that you are experiencing is originating in your neck. One time a patient came to me with a prescription from a doctor that said “deltoid pain.” That’s utterly absurd. That’s actually kind of scary. Anyway so you have shoulder pain and you go to see a PT and she gives you some exercises. You go home and do the exercises. Hopefully, what happens is this…..That pain that you’re having may move. If the pain moves closer to the middle of your neck, that’s a good thing. You want that, that’s called centralization. Keep doing the exercises. Even if the pain is more intense, if it’s closer to midline, that’s good. What you don’t want is for the pain to peripheralize. You don’t want that pain to move further away from midline and start going down the arm or start experiencing symptoms in the fingers. Peripheralization is bad.
Everything I just explained for the neck is the same for the mid and low back. Problems in the low back will cause symptoms in the legs and feet. Sciatica is pain down the back of the leg because something is putting pressure on the sciatic nerve and it hurts. You want the pain to retreat up the leg. If you’re having pain in your calf, you want the pain to be in your thigh, then in the butt, then the low back, then gone. Pain that moves closer to midline is centralizing and that’s always a good thing.
The way to not have this happen again is to be insanely obsessive about your posture.