I've had it on my mind to address Allodynia on its own more often. I'm coming across more and more PWF's (People With Fibromyalgia) who are describing symptoms that either sound like or closely resemble those of Allodynia. Many people may not have the information they need to ask questions of their doctors to find out if they indeed have it or not.
What is Allodynia?
Retrieved from http://yourtotalhealth.ivillage.com/allodynia.html on March 2nd 2009:
***“Allodynia is pain that is caused by stimulus that does not usually produce a pain response in the body.
Allodynia is the result of a process called central sensitization, where cells in the central nervous system are unusually excitable. There are several types of Allodynia, including touch Allodynia, location Allodynia and temperature Allodynia.”***
Retrieved from http://yourtotalhealth.ivillage.com/allodynia.html?pageNum=2#2 on March 2nd 2009:
***"Even though the exact cause is not known, Allodynia is considered to be the result of a process called central sensitization, which is an increase in the excitability of neurons within the central nervous system. The central nervous system includes the brain and spinal cord. Peripheral nerves branch out to the rest of the body.
Usually the central sensitization occurs because of peripheral sensitization. In peripheral sensitization, the peripheral nerve endings keep sending the pain signals to the brain even in the absence of a pain stimulus. During central sensitization, a normally harmless stimulus, such as a light touch to the skin, activates neurons in the spinal cord and brain that are usually activated only in response to noxious stimuli (intense stimuli that may cause damage to the tissue), or the neurons may get activated even in the absence of any stimulus.
There are several types of Allodynia.
Touch Allodynia (cutaneous Allodynia). Pain experienced from stimulus that does not normally produce pain. Examples of activities that may produce Allodynia include combing or brushing hair, shaving, showering and wearing glasses.
Location Allodynia (allesthesia or allachesthesia). Pain that occurs in a location of the body other than the one stimulated. One example of location Allodynia is when pain is experienced in the forearm when a hand is rubbed against a beard.
Temperature Allodynia (thermal Allodynia). Abnormal pain resulting from exposure to heat or cold. One example occurs when a cold breeze produces a feeling of burning.
Additional symptoms that may accompany Allodynia include soreness or tenderness, difficulty resting on the side of the body experiencing Allodynia, hot or burning sensation and localized tenderness. Sometimes the person may not be able to tolerate even the touch of cloth to the area affected by Allodynia.
Allodynia is often a response to a change in the nature of a tactile or thermal stimulus. For example, a person who had not been experiencing pain may suddenly feel pain when a fan is turned on.
Allodynia is different from hyperalgesia (extreme sensitivity to pain). This occurs when a stimulus that is normally painful causes an unusually exaggerated and prolonged amount of pain. It is also different from referred pain, paresthesia and psychosomatic pain.
Allodynia is often a component of neuropathic pain. This pain is the result of damage or disease to the peripheral or central nervous system, such as that caused by diabetes. Neuropathic pain is different from other types of pain, such as nociceptive pain, which is usually the response to noxious stimuli."***
My Experience With Allodynia
My personal experience with Allodynia includes “sunburn-like” feelings of pain when my hair brushes against my neck or face or from certain clothing materials especially in my shirts, and burning sensations on various parts of my skin such as my arms, my cheeks, the sides of my nose, and my hips for example. (This falls under the category of 'Tactile Allodynia')
I am also extremely sensitive to multiple noises or certain pitches of noise. If there is more than one conversation going on in a room and the TV is also on, I feel as though my brain is being scrambled in a food processor and my body becomes hypersensitive. If I’m around several children laughing and squealing, or certain females with high pitched voices my body becomes hypersensitive. (This falls under the category of 'Location Allodynia')
I am very sensitive to changes in temperature. My skin can feel extremely cool to the touch and have goose bumps even in temperatures in the upper 70's if there is a breeze blowing and my Allodynia is acting up that day. There are times when I'll be huddled up on my couch with a large warm blanket on me, and the rest of my family is walking around in shorts and light shirts. We live in Arizona and even the Arizona heat can at times be no comfort for me. My husband jokingly quipped one day (and it made me laugh so hard!) "hell isn't hot enough for my wife!" LOL!!!!!!
The strange thing is that just as quickly as I'm shivering and shaking from a slight breeze or wind, I can turn "fever hot" inside without any heat manifesting on my skin to match how hot I feel inside. It can feel like a fever in my tissues and bones without any evidence of it on the outside. (Just to be sure, I was checked to see if I'm in pre-menopause, and the result was negative) These are not hot flashes as such. (This falls under the category of 'Temperature Allodynia')
These symptoms as with my Fibromyalgia symptoms are unpredictable, frustrating to manage, and do not occur all the time. I have to be on top of things and have things handy to help myself manage them.
I keep a rubber band, barrette, or scrunchy handy to put my hair up, I choose mostly soft cotton or soft material for my shirts and avoid anything made of mostly linen or any Angora as they aggravate my skin sensitivity.
I keep a set of soft reusable earplugs handy to minimize noise. It’s become sort of a cute joke within my family because I happen to be the mother of six awesome kids! Because we work together as a family team, they know if Mom has her pink earplugs in, it’s because my Allodynia is acting up and it doesn’t make them feel rejected or condemned. I’ve sat down with them and told them several times that I love them, I want them to act normal and that I have to do what I have to do in order to manage my pain at the same time. (On the silly side: I just decided to “go with it” and find the cutest earplugs I could find for my taste and they are now one of my “fashion accessories”. Hahahaaa!! I’ve found all kinds of different colors like blue, purple, pink, green and yellow and I even found flesh tone ones too!)
I keep a sweater or jacket handy in the vehicle or tied around my waist when I'm out, just in case. I also use disposable heat packs from Therma-Care on my lower back or lower abdomen if I'm wearing an outfit that doesn't look right with a jacket or sweater. I find that when I place them in these areas I am able to achieve a heat wave type of affect all over, or at least enough to keep me pretty comfortable.
I want to encourage those of you who believe you may have the above symptoms or even some of the described symptoms and are suspicious that you may be experiencing the effects of Allodynia, to ask questions at your doctor's appointments. Print out the information or write it down so you can have it there with you. Also, write down and keep a record of your symptoms; where they occur, when they occur, how they feel, and how often they happen. Take it with you to your appointment and have a good and lengthy look together with your medical team at whether you should be examined further to see if there is a diagnosis to be made.
My best to all of you today...