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Before I knew the word Allodynia
One day, while having a Hemiplegic Migraine, my husband was trying really hard to help me get comfortable. This is no easy task since I have no use of my right arm and I can’t talk during the attack.
I was getting frustrated because I couldn’t just say that something was making my feet and legs hurt. It wasn’t long before he was frustrated too. He felt really bad that nothing he was doing was helping me. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what he could do to help because I didn’t know why I was in pain.
Fast forward a couple of days, another Hemiplegic Migraine, my daughter was trying to help me. I’m not sure why but after covering me up, she pulled the wrinkles out of the sheet. It fixed it! I jokingly told my husband that she “tucked me in” better. Then I explained that it was the wrinkles in the sheets that made my feet and legs hurt. They both thought I was loosing my mind.
I didn’t know this was really a “thing” until I stumbled across the word, Allodynia. Now I can tell my husband and daughter that it is real and I am not just picky!
What is Allodynia?
Allodynia is pain that results from a stimulus that should not cause pain. For example, air from a fan, seams from clothing, wrinkles in sheets…even a light touch can be painful.
“Research suggests that allodynia in migraine results from a process within the brain and spinal cord, which make up the central nervous system. Scientists call this process leading to allodynia, central sensitization. The process begins when sensory pain nerves, known as nociceptors, react to a sensory signal or stimulus.” – American Migraine Foundation
There is also research that has shown Allodynia may hinder the effectiveness of Migraine treatments. In an article on the Neurology Advisor website, Dr. Richard Lipton says, “Taking Allodynia into account in patients with migraine is essential, as it can provide clues regarding the pathophysiology of migraine and headache progression. There is evidence supporting the notion that Allodynia may predict a patient’s response to migraine treatment. Studies suggest that Allodynia is a strong predictor of inadequate response to treatment with a number of abortives and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.”
The American Migraine Foundation states that 80% of Migraine sufferers also experience Allodynia. But Migraine is not the only Chronic Illness that shares a connection with this disorder. Fibromyalgia, Diabetes and Lupus are just a few other illnesses that can coincide with Allodynia.
What Helps Ease the Discomfort?
Currently, there is no cure for allodynia and treatment is aimed at decreasing pain. Medications such as anti-inflammatories, topical creams that contain lidocaine can help relieve discomfort. Although limited in the degree of helpfulness, these medications do make life a bit better.
Acupuncture and Therapeutic Massage are also considered to be an effective treatment of pain in most situations. Although, in the worst cases, these treatments will only cause more discomfort because of the pressure applied to the skin.
Some people might find that lifestyle changes, such as light exercise, a healthful diet, and getting enough sleep might help. And if you smoke, stopping may help because nicotine decreases circulation.
There are many symptoms caused by migraine that have nothing to do with a headache. Allodynia is one of these symptoms. The pain can be mild to very severe and can also cause pain all over your body. There is no cure for Allodynia. Because of this, managing the illness that triggers it (in my case it is migraine) is the best option. Medications and lifestyle changes are also recommended treatments.
Disclaimer: This blog post provides general information and my firsthand accounts about a serious medical condition. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice.
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