Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What Is Allodynia?

Hello Everyone,

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.

They include:

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...


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post. I have allodynia clothing issues...straps on bras and camisoles that cause horrible pain and spasms as well as seams on clothing irrate my skin and cause pain and redness and inflammation. I also have the noise issues as you describe.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the info. It's so good to know I'm not alone. When my cat (who has the softest long-haired bunny-like fur) gently rubs up against my legs, it feels like a thousand tiny razor blades against my skin, and I just can't stand it. I also find myself wincing when one of my kids touches my arm, legs, etc. I'm not sure which is worse, the physical pain, or the guilt from asking my kids to please move their hand, that hurts Mommy.
Kudos to you for your creative solutions!

Anonymous said...

Wow! I hate that you have this, but it is good to know that I am not crazy! I must be on of the few males with Fibro and allodynia (I just recently found the word for it other than skin pain, which feels good) I have had it is since I was 19, I am now 40. Mine is worse in winter, and much worse when the weather turns from warm to colder. I just started Topamax which is used for migraines, and it seems to really be helping the allodynia, as allodynia can accompany migraines, which thankfully I don't have. I am also sensitive to noises at time. Thanks for your blog and best of luck. Also you might want to ask your doc about Neurontin and or Lyrica.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your post. You mention Tactile/Kinetic, Temperature, and Auditory stimulation bothers you. Along with my Fibro, all of those bother me, but Visual stimuli also bothers me. I cant stand to be in the tv section of a store, have the background of my computer be on the "tile" setting. or be in a crowd. I even wondered if I had agoraphobia, but I didnt think so, now I know what it is, it just hurts. I recently started Gabapentin and I am doing much better with all the Allodynia.

Shannon Hutcheson said...

Hello Sherri, first time to your site :)

I have that sunburn-like feeling on my upper body nearly 24/7. I run "hot" too. Definitely chuckled over your hubby's comment "My wife is too hot for hell" lol. I so get that!

I wonder if my personal issue with feeling way too hot is not more related to just not being able to regulate my own temperature. I have to have a fan on me all the time, even when I'm sleeping.

I definitely have #VBPDs (very bad pain days) where even my hair hurts! To brush, that is. But moreso, I almost feel allergic to my own hair and wonder if anyone else has this experience? My hair tickles and *itches* against my neck. I always have it up in a soft cotton scrunchie or a hair clip.

Light and love to you Sherri! I'm so glad I found your blog :)

Sherri said...

I love to read all of your comments and suggestions! You all help me as much as this blog helps you =)

For a long time, I thought I was losing my mind trying to manage these symptoms and even find information for them. It wasn't until I found my Rheumatologist in 2007 that he put a name to the symptoms and actually validated what I was experiencing.

I have used Lyrica in the past for both the Fibro and Allodynia, however for me the weight gain side effect was just to agressive and I no longer take it.

I have found that Magnesium at 250mg per day so far (or 2 times a day for bad days) has helped me tremendously. I never skip a day without it now. It regulates the nerves in the body and for me at least has become an integral partner in my fight for my quality of life.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the awesome post. It haa helped me understand what is going on with myself!

Anonymous said...

i do believe i have this as well have been to several doctors neurologist and rhumatoid doctors. Yes am starting to feel crazy it should not hurt when you touch your legs.....it has been going on for 3 years have been on gabapentin, meloxicam, cymbalta with no results any other suggestions???

Lisa Adams said...

I aneurysm pop in brain 22 weeks pregnant in 05. Beed around brain 6 days b4 surgery. I've since than had so many issues I thought I was alone in. I heard of no one having brainfreezes w/out a cold drink, but just a breeze of even 78°. Winter very hard. I wear hats year round like a wheel chair. In air conditioned buildings, etc. The hats even cause headaches & pain. Im partial epileptic on R side, & get charlie horses & bad spasms. Today I was diagnosed w/allodynia. OMG things finally make sense & I'm not crazy or making it up. Its real & it hurts. Ive yet to be perscribed meds. My depakote er has to be increased for my daily blackouts. Seizure free 1 yr now. Im so proud to celebrate every day of life after 2 aneurysm surgeries (high risk because 1st 1 popped). Any advise recommended. I cant exercise, jars brain, I hear vibrations others cant, etc. Thnx for your write up. It truly helps to know Im not alone in this & others know how it feels physically and mentally. Thankyou.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for describing everything that is happening with me and my child. I feel like I am a cannon because I have lots of information to shoot at the doctors now. I have suffered for a long time, taking otc medications that has made me very afraid because of the damages to my body and all of symptoms and pains still exists. You have really made my day. Thanks for sharing

Sherri said...

Every time I hear that information is helping someone it makes it all worth it (((HUG)))