Human skin is the largest organ in the body. It is made up of hundreds of nerve endings that can sense the slightest pressure, temperature change, or movement. Through the skin we can sense heat, pain, cold, or pleasurable sensations. Without our skin, we would be numb to our surroundings, and unresponsive to stimuli like zombies.
Normally, touching our skin will not cause pain. There are cases, however, that a medical condition can make the slightest touch unbearable for some. This medical condition is called Allodynia, meaning “other pain.” Allodynia is a painful response to a usually non-painful stimulus.
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.
Types of Allodynia
There are four types of allodynia: static mechanical, dynamic mechanical, thermal, and location allodynia. Mechanical allodynia can be either static or dynamic. It is static when the pain is caused by the lightest touch or pressure. It becomes dynamic when the pain results from brushing. The third type, thermal allodynia, is caused by mild changes in temperature on the affected area. Lastly, the fourth type is allesthesia, or location allodynia, wherein pain occurs in a location of the body other than the one stimulated.
Possible Causes of Allodynia
Allodynia can be seen as a symptom of health problems such as fibromyalgia and migraine. There is strong evidence that this oversensitivity is caused by sensitization of the central nervous system, which is the increased response of neurons following repetitive stimulation.
As the nerves are oversensitized, the nerve receptors get confused and may re-interpret harmless sensations as painful. This false sense of pain is caused by a change in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord that gives non-painful sensory information access to the nociceptive system.
Medications for Relieving the Pain
Sometimes a simple aspririn can ease the pain. However, severe cases of Allodynia will require doses of pain killers such as Many non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) are used to prevent sensitization.
What to Wear If You Have Allodynia
When the lightest material can cause unbereable pain it can be difficult for sufferers to wear clothing. Wearing clothing made of very soft material such as such as silk, satin and cashmere, and also velour, knit rayon and French terry cloth can help. Natural fibers that feel smooth and soft to the touch are the best options for those with Allodynia.
Allodynia versus Hyperalgesia
Allodynia is different from hyperalgesia, which is an increased sensitivity to pain. In order for a condition to be diagnosed as hyperalgesia, the stimulus must already be painful when normally applied. In the case of allodynia, however, the stimulus is normally not painful. Both medical conditions result to extreme painful sensations, to the point that some hyperalgesia patients are known to be traumatized from further exposure to the stimuli that would cause them this abnormal response. Both painful conditions are very much different from referred pain, paresthesia and psychosomatic pain.