Allodynia is a pain response caused by stimuli that normally does not cause pain (i.e., a shirt touching the area, a hug, or a brush of a hand). Temperature and/or physical stimuli can cause it to flare. It often feels like a burning sensation. It often happens after injury to the site (i.e., amputation of a limb), or like in my case having a Spinal Cord Injury and Chiari Malformation causing myelopathy. (Wikipedia, Allodynia)
There are days when the thought of getting undressed, then showered and then dressed again seems impossible. The burning sensation feels more like my skin is stretched and swollen to capacity then as I move it feels like it is being ripped open. If I have excess gas build up from something I have eaten, for example, my torso feels like acid has been poured on it. Of course, this is not what is happening, but when you move at all and the neurological response sends the pain soring to a 7 or more it makes simple daily tasks seem out of reach.
There are three main types of Allodynia. A person may have one, two or all three types of Allodynia. They are:
- Thermal allodynia: Thermal allodynia causes temperature-related pain. Pain occurs due to a mild change of temperature on the skin (hot or cold/or both) For example, exposure to heat like being in the sun can cause symptoms to increase.
- Mechanical allodynia: This where sensation caused something moving across the skin. For instance, bedsheets pulled across a person’s skin may be painful or a towel rubbing the area.
- Tactile allodynia: Tactile allodynia, also called static allodynia, happens when something touches the skin. For example, a tap on the shoulder may cause pain for someone with tactile allodynia. (Pietro, 2017)
Allodynia may occur due to increased responsiveness or malfunction of nociceptors, which are a type of nerve. There are “pain receptors” nerves located all over the body which includes the skin, muscles, joints, bones, and internal organs. The nociceptors respond to pain and send the signal from the body part to the spinal cord and brain. With people who have spinal cord injuries the signals get confused so a touch can be confused as pain. (Wikipedia, Nociceptor) There are medical conditions which can increase the risk of developing allodynia, such as: Spinal Cord Injury, Migraines, Postherpetic neuralgia, Fibromyalgia, Diabetes, and Complex regional pain syndrome. (Roland, 2017)
There is no cure for Allodynia. Currently the treatment is aimed and reducing the symptoms. The use of Pregabalin (Lyrica) and other medications like it are used to treat other conditions like spinal cord injuries, diabetes, and fibromyalgia and are now being used to reduce the Allodynia pain along with lifestyle changes such as reducing stress. Getting plenty of sleep and keeping stress low as well as eating healthy can all help reduce the symptoms. (Pietro, 2017)
Personally, I have tired various methods and so far, I have not found the magic mixture. I currently 1500 mg of Gabapentin a day for the nerve pain in my legs which does not help the Allodynia much. I also take 75 mg of Lyrica three times per day as well which marginally helps. My daytime control is much better as I can maintain my pain level at a 2 to 4, whereas, at night I am at a 5 to an 8+. In the past I have tried Cymbalta, but unfortunately, about 6 mos. in it stopped working at all. I have also tried Amitriptyline which also did not help at all except to make me drowsy all the time. About 2 yrs. ago I began using CBD and I discovered that it does help. I have had to play with the amount I must take to get a therapeutic level and get pain relief. I am currently taking 16.5 mg 5 times per day. I still have horrible nights and I am searching for better overall control. Currently, I continue to use my Oculus Go when the pain is out of control. I find that after about 10 mins. my pain is bearable and in about 15 mins. I can remove the helmet and begin to move around again.
Living in chronic pain takes its toll on the body so it is crucial to find ways to relieve the pain and allow the body to rest. I passionately believe that I will find the answer. Each day I am given I will keep moving forward even if it is just a baby step. God has continued to heal me, and He gives me strength to face each day. I am blessed to have such a great family who love me and support me every step of the way even on the days I do not treat them as well as I want to. So thankful for their forgiveness and understanding.
Pietro, M. d. (2017). Allodynia: Causes, types, and treatment. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318867.php.
Roland, J. (2017). Everything You Should Know About Allodynia. https://www.healthline.com/health/allodynia.
Wikipedia. (n.d.). Allodynia.
Wikipedia. (n.d.). Nociceptor. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nociceptor.