Allodynia is a type of pain that normal, healthy people don’t feel under the same circumstances. For instance, even a slight touch to the skin might feel painful to someone suffering from allodynia. Unfortunately, it is often chronic and therefore long-lasting.
However, there are ways to ease the suffering of allodynia. So, continue reading to learn about the types, causes, conditions, and treatments for allodynia pain.
Table of Contents
What is Allodynia Pain?
Some patients describe allodynia pain as a burning sensation, while others feel sharp pain. To dig a little deeper, let’s explore the types of allodynia pain.
Types of Allodynia Pain
Touch is the cause of tactile allodynia. Examples of this type include:
- Light touches on the skin.
- Clothes that lay against your skin.
- Tight socks, waistbands, or belts.
The cause for this type, is movement across the skin. Examples of this are as follows:
- Drying with a bath towel.
- Brushing against bedsheets.
- A strong breeze or a fan blowing over the skin.
This is temperature-related, in which heat or cold causes the pain, but not in high, or low enough degrees, to damage the skin. For instance:
- When your hands are cold, they feel like they’re burning.
- If your hands get too warm, they get painful.
People with allodynia have a challenging time understanding how things, that are normally harmless, become so painful. Much less, for people who have never experienced it, how do they understand? However, it is important to note that this is real pain, that requires treatment from medical professionals. Unfortunately, people with allodynia are often perceived by others as being overly sensitive, or even crazy. Neither of which is true!
Tip o’ the hat to VeryWellHeath.
What Causes Allodynia?
Frequently, the source of this symptom is fibromyalgia. Chronic fatigue syndrome also produces this condition in some people. Other conditions that contribute to allodynia are migraines, shingles, and neuropathy.
The pain experience is from a supersensitive reaction to touch. The term central sensitization refers to the central nervous system, that has become extra sensitive. Some studies suggest that central sensitization is the basis for allodynia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia among others.
Nociceptors are the nerves that send the allodynia pain signals. It is their primary job to detect pain, right from the skin itself. While most nerves send a signal to the brain and wait to receive it back, nociceptors react immediately. These are the nerves that allow you to save yourself from danger, in a flash. However, when the nociceptors become sensitized, they interpret any touch or sensation as pain.
The Underlying Conditions
To understand allodynia, you must also research the underlying conditions. Known conditions that cause allodynia pain include; fibromyalgia, migraine headaches, peripheral neuropathy, and postherpetic neuralgia, more commonly known as shingles.
What scientists know about fibromyalgia is that it runs in families, and trauma tends to trigger this condition.
Furthermore, the symptoms of this disorder are muscle and joint pain throughout the body. Injuries to the body play no part in this type of muscle and joint pain. Rather, scientists think its source is from the way the brain processes pain signals.
This is both difficult to diagnose and treat. That’s because it mimics symptoms of other conditions, which often leads to misdiagnoses. However, there are medications and therapies, along with lifestyle changes, that work to help patients manage their symptoms, for a better quality of life.
Migraines are a type of headache with intense pain. Interestingly, the triggers for migraine headaches occur when there are changes in nerve signals and chemical activity in the brain. For some people, migraines also cause allodynia.
Peripheral neuropathy occurs when there is damage to the nerves connecting the brain and spinal cord. Damage to these nerves causes signals of pain where there is nothing causing the pain.
Damage from diabetes is often a cause of this neuropathy but physical trauma also causes this unfortunate condition. Other sources of nerve damage are alcohol and toxic chemicals.
Postherpetic neuralgia is a complication of shingles. The source of this disease is the varicella-zoster virus more commonly known as chickenpox. When children get this virus, it remains dormant long after childhood and reactivates decades later. However, sometimes the pain remains after the shingles have gone away. The pain that remains is the condition known as postherpetic neuralgia.
Allodynia Symptoms Checklist
The allodynia symptoms depend on the source or the underlying cause such as fibromyalgia, migraines, peripheral neuropathy, or shingles. Below you will find the underlying causes and the corresponding symptoms of allodynia.
Fibromyalgia • Symptoms of Allodynia
- Body pain is widespread.
- Ultra-sensitive to touch.
- Painful muscle spasms.
- Tip o’ the hat to FibromyalgiaPainCure.
Migraine Headaches • Symptoms of Allodynia
- Increase in sensitivity to light or sounds.
- Vision changes.
- Vomiting or nausea.
- Tip o’ the hat to HealthLine.
Peripheral Neuropathy • Symptoms of Allodynia
- Burning, sharp, or stabbing pain.
- Ultra-sensitivity to touch.
- Pain where there are no painful activities.
- Tip o’ the hat to MayoClinic.
Postherpetic Neuralgia • Symptoms of Allodynia
- Pain that lasts long after the shingles have gone away.
- Ultra-sensitivity to touch.
Again, the type of treatment depends on the cause of the allodynia. Regardless, your medical professional will look at your history and make recommendations for medication, and lifestyle changes.
Common medication treatments might include Lyrica or Neurontin. Some tricyclic antidepressants such as Amitriptyline are also in use for this type of pain.
Topical Pain Lotions
Some people report relief from pain when they use topical pain lotions such as products with lidocaine, Aspercreme, BioFreeze, and Tiger Balm.
Clothing Tips for Allodynia
Life with allodynia is hard when wearing a shirt becomes a painful experience. However, if your skin is painful to the touch, there are ways to dress that helps ease some of the discomfort.
First, avoid any tight-fitting clothes altogether. Also avoid belts, bras, and waistbands. In other words, avoid any unnecessary pressure on the skin – especially in the abdomen and chest area. Unfortunately, clothing pressure in the wrong areas often causes burning, or stabbing pain, for people with allodynia.
If you live with allodynia, you might be interested in the following dressing tips. These tips demonstrate some clever ways to ease undue stress on your skin.
Relieve Your Waist
One of the first articles of clothing to go is pantyhose. They create undue pressure on the abdomen. Instead, replace them with thigh-high or knee-high stockings.
Next, replace your midsection briefs with low-cut bikini briefs instead. Then, if you worry about your mid-drift showing, wear a longer top.
When purchasing pants, do the sit test. This involves sitting down, slouching, and leaning forward. If they’re loose enough to still feel comfortable, these are the ones you want.
Some women find wearing maternity pants, with an underbelly band, comforting. This band sits lower on the belly and gives support, without pressure on the stomach.
If you love wearing loose sweats, it’s always a good option. An even better option is to wear sweatpants with a drawstring rather than elastic. Drawstrings are easily adjustable, while elastic applies unhealthy pressure on the abdomen.
When selecting the right nightclothes, opt for bathrobes with zippers, instead of ties, for a super loose fit. Toss the shirt and pant pajamas away, and get your nightgowns out. Additionally, if your legs get cold in the nightgown, wear some leg warmers.
Meeting the Bra Challenge
Underwires are out of the question for people with allodynia. While they may look good in clothes, they can cause a great deal of pain. However, you have options that include soft-cup bras, sports bras, and bandeaus.
Soft-cup bras are good if you’re a larger size. Most women don’t wear the right size bra, under normal circumstances, so a good fitting is definitely in order for someone with allodynia. Also, select wide shoulder straps to distribute weight better, without the painful cutting of thin straps.
Sports bras are a good choice, because they keep everything in the right place, and put very little squeeze on your rib cage. But again, be careful about the size, and don’t wear them too tight.
Finally, bandeaus or bralettes are an option if you’re a smaller person. This style is an unlined soft-cup bra designed only for comfort. Of course, it is popular among teens, because it doesn’t have any lift. But even though it has nominal support, it has nothing to stick you with either.
Wear Soft, Natural Fabric
Stick with natural fibers whenever possible, and take time to touch and feel fabrics, before you purchase them.
Look for fabrics that are soft, and light to the touch. Also, look for 100% cotton, silk, fleece, flannel, and some stretchy knits. In fact, you might even opt for a full set of flannel sheets in your bed, for nighttime comfort.
It is also wise to look for clothing that has the manufacturer’s tags printed on the fabric, rather than a tag that irritates your skin.
Tip o’ the hat to VeryWellHealth.
Lifestyle Changes Help
One of the suggestions to expect from your medical professional, is to change your lifestyle in certain ways. This might include avoidance of certain foods or beverages that trigger symptoms.
In addition, learning to effectively deal with stress is a big lifestyle change that not only your eases your pain, but also your entire outlook.
An excellent idea is to track your pain and progress in a journal. List what works, and what doesn’t work for you. What doesn’t work for you are the triggers to avoid. So, use your journal to set healthy habits, and limits for yourself. A journal is also useful to keep your physician, or medical professional, up-to-date on your progress.
Emotional support is a helpful strategy, especially when you’re in pain. Therefore, make it your business to find support groups in your neighborhood, or online. Not only will you enjoy exchanging information, but it’s also comforting to connect with those who understand what you’re going through.
The symptoms of allodynia are often long-lasting (chronic), and hard to treat. Moreover, you might never be completely free of pain.
However, whether you live with allodynia migraine, mechanical allodynia, tactile allodynia, or other types; working closely with your medical professional will help ease the pain.
Allodynia Medication and Lifestyle Changes
The more you know, the easier it is to live with this condition. So, continue to do you research, and consult with your physician regularly. Your physician will help you find the right combination of medication, and lifestyle changes for you.
Again, be sure to work closely with your medical professional to determine the right medication treatment for you. Your physician might suggest Lyrica, Neurontin, or an anti-depressant such as Amitriptyline.
Remember that the type of treatment depends on the source of the allodynia. Additionally, many people get relief from topical lotions such as lidocaine, Aspercreme, BioFreeze, and Tiger Balm.
Underlying conditions for your allodynia might be from fibromyalgia, migraine headaches, peripheral neuropathy, or postherpetic neuralgia (shingles.)
Your Allodynia Lifestyle
Additionally, find ways of changing your lifestyle. Those changes might include the type of clothing you wear. Always go for loose-fitting and all-natural fabric in your clothes. Get rid of the pantyhose and replace them with knee-high or thigh-high stockings.
Be sure to avoid tight-fitting clothes around your abdomen or waste. That includes wearing loose pants (remember your “sit test”), no belts, drawstrings instead of elastic, and robes with zippers instead of ties, just to name a few.
Other lifestyle changes include keeping a daily diary of your progress. This is an important tip because it helps you track your progress, so you can report more effectively to your physician. You can also reach out to support groups, either locally or online. This type of social interaction helps you better understand what you’re going through, and it gives you excellent corroboration from others.
Continue to do educate yourself, work closely with your medical professionals, change your lifestyle, and reach out to others. If you do, you will find that there is always hope, and support, for people who suffer from allodynia.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products discussed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.