*I have a more up to date post here.*
I have been in a chronic pain flare up since the beginning of January – the longest and worst flare to date! The pain I have experienced in this flare has probably been the worst so far. One of the most problematic symptoms of my condition is allodynia and I want to talk about it in this post to educate non sufferers.
Allodynia is an intense neuropathic pain due to a stimulus that does not usually provoke pain. When you hurt yourself, whether it be from a burn on a hot oven or if you fall over and scrape your knee, your brain receives a pain signal. These painful sensations are interpreted by our nocireceptors (specialised nerves where pain signals originate). In patients with neuropathic pain, those receptors are being triggered incorrectly – they react to stimuli that for most people are harmless and shouldn’t cause a pain response.
There are 3 types of allodynia; Tactile Allodynia (pain caused by something touching your skin i.e. when brushing your hair, shaving or showering), Dynamic Mechanical Allodynia (pain caused by movement across the skin such as stroking or massage) and Thermal Allodynia (mild heat or cold temperatures causing pain). I suffer from all three, especially tactile allodynia.
I have allodynia in both of my legs, hips and back. I have had to completely change how I dress to in order to decrease my discomfort. I haven’t been able to wear jeans or tailored trousers for years because as soon as I put on clothing that puts any form of pressure on my legs my pain soars. I tend to stick to very loose light-weight pyjama bottoms, loose maxi dresses or 100% cotton soft leggings. Even socks cause discomfort at the moment where the elasticated band around the top touches my skin. I also cannot tolerate having anything resting on my legs such as a laptop, a book, etc. The heat too has been a big problem for me, I have to have lukewarm/cold showers and extremely thin and light summer duvets. It’s funny though as I am able to have hot water bottles on my hips but the minute I step into a hot shower my legs go crazy?!
I think one of the most frustrating things about my allodynia is that I haven’t yet found anything that helps. There are times when even the cool breeze against my skin feels like a thousand needles or the vibration of my wheelchair as it moves causes a horrible burning sensation. A lot of the time at the moment even the pressure of sitting or laying down causes so much pain where my limbs make contact with anything. Sounds crazy doesn’t it?!
Do you suffer from allodynia? Have you found anything that helps?