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How to Treat Allodynia and Fibromyalgia Skin Pain

Do you feel hurt when someone gives you a hug, and wonder why does my skin hurt?

People not suffering with fibromyalgia condition often find it hard to understand this situation.

It is no doubt that fibromyalgia symptoms come in different forms, but some of us feel the pain even by light touch which is felt as a burning sensation on the skin.

Healthy people do not experience any pain when someone touches them or when they brush their hair or get exposed to mild warm or cold temperature.

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However, for fibromyalgia patients, it is very common to have extreme sensitivity to external stimulants such as touch and temperature which sometimes progresses to the nerve pain.

Fibromyalgia is not an autoimmune or inflammation based illness; however, research has suggested that fibromyalgia condition develops due to a problem with the central nervous system.

There are various fibromyalgia symptoms such as widespread body pain, muscle spasm, tenderness, difficulty sleeping, and hypersensitivity.

The problem with the hypersensitivity to the central nervous system causes non-painful stimulants typically to be perceived as painful.

This condition is generally called as Allodynia and also known as fibromyalgia skin pain.

What is Allodynia?

Allodynia is a painful condition which generally gets triggered due to several non-painful stimulations. For example, people suffering from a migraine are hypersensitive to light.

An average person getting exposed to the natural sunlight might feel a little bit hotter but will not experience symptoms of sunburn, but people with allodynia condition experience painful condition similar to a sunburn.

The sensitivity and severity vary among individuals, and fibromyalgia patients have reported being more sensitive to external stimulants which cause them experience severe pain.

According to Dr. Andrea M Trescott, in his book “Peripheral Nerve Entrapment: Clinical Diagnosis and Management” stated, the entrapment of peripheral nerves can cause a variety of painful condition such as a headache, backache, and foot pain.

The nerve entrapment generally happens in those areas where nerve goes through a tunnel or canal, or pierces through fascia or makes a sharp change in the direction of its path.

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Chronic injury, which is the most common cause of trigger in fibromyalgia patients, causes these peripheral nerves to be over-excited which result in developing hyperalgesia and allodynia-like condition.

The nerve entrapment causes the pain similar to burning, shooting, or lancinating quality and depending on the severity of nerve entrapment the sensitivity can vary among patients.

The other cause of allodynia pain is due to a specialized nerve called nociceptors whose job is to interpret the information such as skin temperature and external painful stimuli to the skin.

Other sensory nerves in the body send the signal to the brain to be processed accurately, but nociceptors nerves have the ability to react independently before sending the signal to the brain.

This is vital for our survival mechanism as this is the reason you take out your hand away when you accidentally touch something hot and prevents you getting burned.

But when there is an issue with these nerves, it interprets all kinds of sensation as pain.

Symptoms of Allodynia

There are different symptoms of allodynia, and generally, the pain caused may be intermittent but becomes more constant and intense with time.

The allodynia is not a very common occurrence, but there have been several other symptoms found to be associated with allodynia such as neuropathy, postherpetic neuralgia (shingles) and migraines.

Fibromyalgia patients often have difficulty in getting proper restorative sleep which could also trigger allodynia-like symptoms.

Fibromyalgia and allodynia have genetic conditions which mean if your parents have fibromyalgia then there is a higher risk that you will develop these conditions too.

There are three types of allodynia based on the triggers which activate allodynia.

  • Tactile or Touch Allodynia: It is a pain caused by something touching the skin. For example, normal daily routines such as combing or brushing the hair, shaving, showering and even wearing glasses can be painful.
  • Movement or Location Allodynia: Pain caused by the movement of joints or muscles, or pain caused at a different place of a body than the one stimulated. For example, the pain is generated in the forearm when a hand is rubbed against a cheek.
  • Thermal or Temperature Allodynia: The pain is caused due to exposure to hot or cold temperature. For example, a mild cold breeze could cause burning sensation on the skin.

Several other allodynia symptoms overlap with the fibromyalgia symptoms such as an increase in the soreness or tenderness in the muscles, difficulty to take rest as it is uncomfortable to lay down one side for a longer time.

In extreme cases, even the touch of cloth to the affected area can cause severe pain.

Difference between Allodynia and Hyperalgesia

People suffering from hyperalgesia condition have increased sensitivity to the painful stimulus, whereas Allodynia condition causes the painful response to the non-painful stimulus.

For example, if you have hyperalgesia condition, a simple poke of needle on your skin will cause you extreme pain whereas in a healthy person the same poke might cause them little discomfort but not actually experience pain.

It is the hypersensitivity to the pain which defines the hyperalgesia condition, and it is important for the trigger to be a painful precursor.

Whereas in allodynia, a non-painful stimulant such as rubbing your arm with a cotton bud will cause you to experience the painful condition.

The main difference between allodynia and hyperalgesia condition is the nature of initial stimulant.

How Allodynia and Fibromyalgia Related?

Although allodynia condition is rare and majority of the people suffering from fibromyalgia condition does not develop both conditions, but the cause of both symptoms understood to be the problem in the nervous system.

In fact, due to several overlapping conditions between allodynia and fibromyalgia patients, several researchers consider these two conditions to be a subset of each other.

Sensory-Overload

The fibromyalgia condition is also classified as widespread chronic pain with widespread allodynia triggered by the light touch or pressure pain.

An article published in European Journal of Pain found that higher number of people experiencing fibromyalgia like a painful condition than the allodynia conditions.

One often overlooked symptom in fibromyalgia patients are sensitivity to the smell or fragrance. It is often due to trouble in body dissecting the non-painful stimulant such as smell to the painful stimulant such as pinching of the skin.

How to Treat Allodynia

Before you start looking ways for allodynia treatment, it is important first to determine that you have this condition.

Any increased sensitivity to the pain when you usually touch your skin, which is a non-painful condition, then you should check with your doctor to determine if you have allodynia condition.

There are several different types of test which your doctor can conduct on you to find out if you have developed allodynia.

The diagnosis of allodynia includes your doctor asking about your family history and the common symptoms you have. The more accurate and precise information you can provide to your doctor can help them to treat allodynia condition successfully.

For effective relief from the allodynia condition, it is important for your doctor to determine the underlying cause of allodynia.

For example, several people with diabetes have reported having reduced allodynia symptoms when their diabetes condition is controlled.

The treatment of allodynia conditions includes the use of medications and doing some lifestyle changes.

The medicines which are typically prescribed to the fibromyalgia patients such as Lyrica, Neurontin, and Savella are often prescribed to the allodynia patients as well.

However, it is important to remember that often these medications have side effects, and many people experience no overall relief.

Not everyone will be responsive to these drugs, and you might experience much success from one medication than the other, and you should talk to your doctor if your condition does not improve or you experience severe side effect using prescribed medicine.

General pain medications such as tramadol also found to be effective in patients with allodynia symptoms.

Some natural pain relieving treatment such as a use of topical creams, doing light exercise, relaxation training, hypnosis, cognitive behavioral therapy, and eliminating certain fibromyalgia triggering diets found to be helpful in controlling the allodynia symptoms.

Some lifestyle changes such as wearing loose clothing, keeping hair tied up, and using the cloth made of soft cotton or soft material can help you to avoid pain caused due to tactile allodynia.

Dressing up appropriately depending on the weather condition so as not to expose yourself to extreme hot or cold temperature can help you manage thermal allodynia.

If you are sensitive to noise or light, then keep earplug and sunglasses handy and keep it in your reach when you find yourself exposed to these conditions which could trigger your allodynia condition.

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You should also get tested for the vitamin deficiencies which often trigger fibromyalgia symptoms.

Most of the time, eating balanced and nutrient rich diet and taking vitamin supplements can help your body to function better and control not only your fibromyalgia but also allodynia symptoms.

Conclusion

Overall like any other pain symptoms, effective pain management, and proper medical care can help monitor the pain perception by the central nervous system, which facilitates the development of the chronic painful conditions.

It not only provide the relief from the allodynia symptoms but also pain caused by several other reasons.

Have you ever experienced allodynia symptoms?

we would love to hear your experience in the comment below.

You can also join the discussion at the Fibromyalgia Pain Cure Facebook page which is dedicated to a discussion of natural treatments for fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions.

Image Credits: Freepik and Pixabay

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Anjali
 

Chief Editor here at Fibromyalgia Pain Cure, I'm a proud mother of one and diagnosed with fibromyalgia condition. My mission is to help others to get relief from fibromyalgia symptoms and live a healthy pain free life.

  • Debra says:

    I have extreme pain from clothing and linens. Even my pillow can hurt my head and face. I can’t even try on clothes with tabs on them. I have to cut tags out first which results in many items that don’t fit and can’t be returned. My feet hurt & burn constantly. Even my hair bothers me. It’s a frustrating life. And painful

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