What is hyperalgesia? What is allodynia?

Two of the most commonly used terms in the pain research and medicine world are hyperalgesia and allodynia. The word hyperalgesia means an increased response to a painful stimulus. The word allodynia means a painful response to a normally innocuous stimulus.

Here is an example of hyperalgesia: if your arm was pricked by a pin and you said that it gave you 3 out of 10 pain this would be your baseline response. If an experimenter then gave you some injection (let’s say capsaicin — the pungent ingredient in hot peppers) and then 30 minutes later pricked you with the pin again and you reported 6 out of 10 pain this would be hyperalgesia. For hyperalgesia to occur it is important for the stimulus to be painful to begin with. Remember that hyperalgesia is always an increased pain response to a noxious stimulus.

Here is an example of allodynia: if an experimenter brushed your arm with a cotton bud (like a q-tip) you would almost certainly say that the stimulus was not painful — 0 out of 10. If the experimenter then injected your arm with capsaicin and brushed your arm again 30 minutes later you would likely report that it was painful — let’s say 4 out of 10 pain. This is an allodynia, a painful response to an innocuous stimulus. In order for allodynia to occur the stimulus MUST NOT normally be painful.

So now that we know what these word mean it is time to understand why they occur. First of all, there are a variety of pain conditions where one of these conditions is present but not the other. This is because they are mechanistically different. Sensory neurons that innervate your skin and visceral organs roughly fall into three categories: 1) Rapidly adapting mechanotransducers. These are neurons that respond to touch and non-noxious temperatures, they conduct action potentials (or nerve impulses) rapidly and they make a subset of nerve fibers called A-beta fibers. 2) Proprioceptive neurons. These are neurons that tell you about the position of your muscles, they also conduct action potentials rapidly and they comprise the other subset of nerve fibers called A-beta fibers. 3) Nociceptors. These are pain sensing neurons that respond to painful mechanical or thermal stimulation. They also comprise the class of neurons that respond to chemical irritants (like capsaicin). They are lightly or unmyelinated so they conduct action potentials more slowly than A-beta fibers. They also generally fail to adapt to stimulation so they keep firing until the stimulus is removed or escaped from. These neurons fall into two classes, A-delta (the lightly myelinated ones) or C-fibers (the unmyelinated ones). Neurons of all of these classes send a projection into the dorsal horn of the spinal cord where processing of incoming sensory information first occurs (all you neuroscientists forget about A-betas and the dorsal funiculus, they send a projection to lamina III as well where they synapse on interneurons that send projections back into lamina I/II). This processing center in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord is commonly referred to as “the gate” — a term that was spawned from Melzack and Wall’s famous gate theory of pain control. These signals are then sent onto the brain where sensory perception occurs.

The physiological basis of hyperalgesia and allodynia lies in the distinction between the type of fibers that carry the information evoked by the stimulus in the periphery.

Remember that hyperalgesia always involves a noxious stimulus, it just becomes more painful when hyperalgesia is present. The noxious stimulus activates nociceptors in the periphery that then send the signal onto the spinal cord. Hyperalgesia involves an amplification of the pain signal. This amplification can occur in the periphery (e.g. the nociceptor is sensitized by an irritant, by inflammation or by disease) or in the spinal cord (via an amplification of synaptic transmission between the nociceptor and the dorsal horn neuron that sends the signal to the brain) or in both locations. There are some cases where the amplification is thought to occur in higher brain centers as well. This can happen, for instance, after a stroke. We will talk more about mechanisms of amplification and there promise for therapy in a later post.

Allodynia involves a noxious response to an innocuous stimulus (think putting on a shirt with a severe sunburn). Because the stimulus is innocuous, and generally of the mechanical variety, it could be carried by rapidly adapting mechanotransducers or by sensitized nociceptors. These two possibilities have been the focus of decades of research both in humans and in animals. While there is evidence that the information can be carried by sensitized nociceptors this is quite controversial. Our current understanding of allodynia suggests that nociceptor mechanical thresholds do not change enough for them to carry information concerning light touch, brush or gentle vibration in conditions where allodynia is present. Rather, it appears that rapidly adapting mechanotransducers (or A-beta fibers) continue to be the sole carrier of this information in conditions where allodynia is present. The change that causes allodynia occurs in the spinal cord. Through an unknown process, A-beta-fibers gain access to the nociceptive channel. In normal conditions A-beta-fibers cannot activate dorsal horn neurons that respond only to painful stimulation. In allodynic conditons, these same neurons begin to receive input from A-beta-fibers. This allows for A-beta-mediated information to gain access to the nociceptive channel thereby stimulating the perception of pain in the brain. Because allodynia can occur rapidly it is unlikely that this change is mediated by a physical change in the connections of neurons in the dorsal horn (although this may occur over the longer term). Rather, it appears that there are changes in the neurochemistry of the “gate” such that inhibitory neurotransmission can switch to excitation. Because GABA (the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain) can switch from inhibition to excitation (or vice-a-versa) in certain conditions (like epilepsy and during early neural development) much current focus is on the role of GABA in allodynia.

In chronic pain conditions both allodynia and hyperalgesia are major problems for these patients. Small movements, putting on or wearing clothes and even sitting or laying down can become very painful due to allodynia. Patients are often able to avoid hyperalgesia but hyperalgesia can be so intense that it causes an aversion to even the most mundane of activities for fear of triggering an attack. In the chronic pain patient both of these conditions are extremely difficult to treat. Allodynia is notoriously resistant to opiate and NSAID analgesics especially in conditions involving a peripheral neuropathy caused by injury or disease (like diabetes).

To wrap up:
Hyperalgesia is an increased response to a noxious stimulus. It is caused by sensitization of peripheral nociceptors and/or by sensitization of central neurons that carry nociceptive information.
Allodynia is a painful response to a non-painful stimuli. It is caused by a change in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord that gives non-noxious sensory information access to the nociceptive system causing innocuous stimuli to be perceived as painful.


107 responses to “What is hyperalgesia? What is allodynia?

  1. I like this direction! I always want to learn more about neuroscience-related things, and I am possibly starting some collaborations on neuron signaling proteins this year so it will be really helpful to understand some of this stuff better.

    At some point can you illuminate the upshot on connections between pain sensitivity and female hormonal cycles, and also the (differences?) in those effects (particularly progesterone) on pain sensitivity vs. neuropathy? I have been trying to figure out what people know about that, and I am confused because while it seems that estrogen and progesterone can help to block acute pain (Horm Behav. 1996 Sep;30(3):244-50.) and when they are low during the luteal phase pain sensitivity is higher (Psychosomatic Medicine 64:621-626 (2002)), progesterone antagonists can help reduce neuropathic pain (European Journal of Pharmacology
    Volume 541, Issues 1-2, 2006, Pages 44-48).

    Am I just reading these wrong, getting the wrong impression of what is important for causing vs. alleviating pain in these contexts, or are these crap journals with bad articles, or is it some kind of complex balance nobody really understands yet?

    • Other internet sites are stating inaccurate information. Sufferers of allodynia are being told that opiates and a host of other pharmaceuticals will help them deal with this terrible melody. Anyone that is able to understand how the nervous system works knows that these will damage/negatively effect or be totally effective in healing the nervous system. Some will chemically change the brain &/or hormonal system for ever. I am presently suffering from allodynia (static, dynamic, thermal) after an episode of shingles. Gabapentin, opiates, antidepressants, OTC’s, nutritional infusions, hypnotherapy, and even a spinal epidural have not helped. I suffer every day and can not get the rest I need. These is certainly the worst thing that has ever happened to me, as I can barely work, workout, play tennis, go out with friends, or even do something as simple as sit back on a sofa.

      • Linda, I do not know if you will get this reply, but I hope so. I too suffer from allodynia and it’s a nightmare. I wonder if you have tried a 3-4 day ketamine infusion? Some are saying it works for chronic regional pain syndrome where nothing else has. I don’t have insurance, but would find the money if it helped.

      • Error: “melody” shoud be spelled “malady”.

        Seemingly a minor point, considering the subject – but still: clear communication is correct and promotes understanding.

        Thanks for the thorough article!

      • … and “shoud” should be spelled “should”! : )

    • Progestrone increases pain!

  2. Arlenna,
    I am not really aware of much work on pain and progesterone. I have paid some attention to the pain and estrogen literature. There are hundreds of papers out there that say estrogen either promotes or inhibits pain. Which way it actually goes is beyond me. As for sex-differences and estrogen I am highly skeptical because aromatase is expressed throughout the nervous system to convert testosterone to estrogen (in males) making the whole thing hard to interpret (at least for my small brain). One thing is clear, after menopause, when estrogen levels drop in females, a number of pain conditions can become prominent and many think that this is related to the osteoporosis disease process (which is prominent in post-menopause females). Hope that helps.

  3. These are the papers that first got me thinking about the progesterone issue:

    “Progesterone mediates gonadal hormone differences in tactile and thermal hypersensitivity following L5 nerve root ligation in female rats.” Lacroix-Fralish ML, Tawfik VL, Nutile-McMenemy N, DeLeo JA. Neuroscience. 2006;138(2):601-8


    “Neuregulin 1 is a pronociceptive cytokine that is regulated by progesterone in the spinal cord: implications for sex specific pain modulation.” Lacroix-Fralish ML, Tawfik VL, Nutile-McMenemy N, Deleo JA. Eur J Pain. 2008 Jan;12(1):94-103.

    I do not know the field at all, so I have no idea where these basic science papers fit in with clinical and human work. I should start reading more of them, but I have so much to read these days…

    I also have to admit to being interested mainly for personal and anecdotal reasons–I have some occasionally very bad nerve pain/radiculopathy/neuropathy from herniated discs in both my neck and lower back, and I sort-of-maybe-kind-of-can’t-tell notice a difference in it depending on other things related to being female. I’ll tell you what I do know though, doctors have a really hard time classifying pain (they couldn’t understand how it could be aching, burning, pinching AND numb all at the same time) whereas my chiropractor has no problem understanding what I meant.

    As for the sex differences thing, is there any cyclical nature to the aromatase conversion of testosterone? My instinct is that bouncing up and down of estrogen levels would make a difference in the relative perception of pain if not the “absolute” amount of pain being transmitted (is there even any such measure as absolute amount of pain?). But, like I said, my total naivety on this subject might make these dumb questions. I have no shame.

  4. Okay,
    First on the papers. Since the first author is actually a good friend of mine I suppose I should have remembered those (sorry Michael!). They come from the lab of Joyce De Leo, a pioneer in the field of neuro-immune interactions and neuropathic pain. I haven’t read them but I’ll take a look. I’m also going to email the first author and ask him to drop by. We’ll see if he cares to say something…

    Onto disc-related pain… I also suffer from this. Some doctors always have a hard time grasping this neurosciency stuff. The short answer is that the disc likely irritates polymodal (they sense all kinds of painful stimuli) nociceptors so you get a whole range of inputs that feel like all those things. A-betas may or may not respond to the chemicals released from the disc but the mechanical pressure placed on them can cause them to stop carrying impulses from the periphery causing numbness. The chemicals from the disc (mostly cytokines) certainly will stimulate the polymodal nociceptors at the site of injury and this stimulation will not adapt, so they keep firing. It sucks, and either the inflammation goes away (and the pain relents) or you have it repaired (like I did) and the pain also stops. Problem is the hyperalgesia is usually still present after the inflammation stops or the surgery is done. Reversing this would be a key finding (and is actually what my lab works on — more or less). I seriously doubt if any of this has any relation to being female, although some A-hole doctor may treat you differently I suppose. Cytokines are cytokines and their receptors are receptors independent of gender.

    Onto sex differences… aromatase activity in males is more or less constant cause we’re always making that testosterone (usually). Females don’t need this so much because they make estrogen in their gonads. There is some evidence of differences in pain perception depending on the time in the estrogen cycle. Many people study this. I don’t understand the mass interest, but that is just me.

  5. Haha if you were a woman you would understand the mass interest. :P It could be scientific, biological justification for why we “are whiny all the time!”

  6. Oh, and cool that you know those guys! Even though I am derailing your post, it looks like you were the right person to ask!

  7. are whiny all the time

    Well this is exactly the reason that I don’t get it!!! I have the impression that women actually handle pain much better than men. I also think that many experiments are biased by the gender of the experimenter and I don’t care to be involved in such stuff. A similar thing is starting to happen now with ethnic differences in pain perception with white experimenters causing pain to black volunteers and then reporting that the black (or Hispanic) volunteers are more sensitive to pain. As if this nation has no history. Sheesh.

  8. I love what you’re doing!!

    In addition to advocacy for the science, these posts should also be useful for patients to understand their conditions and to share with family and friends. It can be very difficult to explain these situations (e.g. allodynia) to non-medical/non-scientists. I had tried to assemble some web links but had not found much material beyond the webMD style descriptive pages… I think your blog will be a great resource.

  9. Yeah, this is great!

    Even though I’ve done a lot of work on isolated DRGs, I always felt a little fuzzy on some of the higher level pain pathways and systems.

    This post at least confirmed that I knew what hyperalgesia and allodynia were, so that’s a good feeling.

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  12. Please by all means – be technical too! I’m a patient now but I used to have a brain -at least I used to! lol

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  16. No one’s posted in a long time, so possibly no one will see this. I am not a doctor (or student), just a person who has had what I always called “sore skin” most of my life. Whenever I would ask about it, no one ever knew what I was talking about, including any doctors I asked. So it’s a relief to me, after all these years, to see the term “allodynia” and a recognition of this condition. Finally! I’ve had this since I was a little kid, but it used to only happen right before I got sick (and stayed with me throughout the illness, usually a cold or flu). Now that I am in my 50s, I get it for no apparent reason. My sister gets it, too, so maybe it’s in our DNA. Nothing seems to alleviate the symptoms of allodynia, so I hope it’s not going to keep getting worse as I age.

    If anyone has any additional or updated information since last summer, I would surely welcome it.

    • Jeri, this type of pain, for me, is usually a result of edema. the less inflammation i have, the less likely i am to feel bruised all over. a low-sodium diet helps tremendously, as does staying away from hydro- and oxycodone, specifically. rain also causes it. hope this helps!

    • I take Neurontin (gabapentin) (originally this drug was prescribed for seizures) for Allodynia, which I have had since childhood (light). 16 years ago I had a severe injury which damaged nerves and bone, and had a severe infection. Eight surgeries later, my Allodyna can be severe, but gabapentin helps quite a bit. If I stop the medicine, the pain comes back hard within three days. Look it up, then ask your doctor about it. It is worth a try.

  17. I greatly appreciate this web site ,as i just found it.Growing upwith “the Princess and The Pea syndrome” it was a relief to finally find out what i have.My allodynia it seems is related to Fibromyalgia,which i have also.Treatment is very difficult ,opiods help some,fibro treatments help some and the use of lidocaine patches help.Living in chronic pain is awful.I have good days and bad days,all the drugs due is make it tolerable.I can no longer work or enjoy the life i used to have.I thank goodness for this website and the research that is bieng done and finally a place to send family and friends too so that they might understand some of what we live with.Does any one know how surgery will affect the body after the surgery is complete?My last one caused an extreme increase in the Allodynia.Can i expect this to happen all the time? If any one has additional or updated information I would surely appreciate it.Thankyou ever so much for caring to research these conditions.

  18. I just found this site. I am interested in learning more about allodynia. I am hypersensitive in my thighs and legs mostly. Doing some Phy Therapy now and the PT remarks that she has never seen this sort of sensitivity in anyone. I worry about this “being in my head”. I had Hysterectomy for Stage 4 endometriosis in the end of 2007, but figured that this pain had something to do with chronic venis stasis in my legs, DVT history, but the pain is bilateral. Had leg injury when I was 22 and now I am 52 and it seemed to flare up 2 yrs ago. Been doing lots of tests and the doctors look at me puzzled. Hard to know who to use as my “point person”. It’s life altering and I have a young family with 12 yr olds. I am not the Mom I want to be or have been. They have given me an antidepressant that I resisted using. It is positively affecting me in that the pain is reduced. I am not sure if I want to increase the dosage. I worry that I am masking the pain and will not find the cause. My husband does not understand and that causes additional stress. Even my stonach is sensitive in where I had incisions. Was the surgery and the stress surrounding it ( they thought it might be ovarian cancer ) do something to my brain ?

    I appreciate any feedback. I may head back to the neurologist who might suggest that the leg pain and cold foot could be a neuropathy.

    • Cathy, 5-HTP and DL-Phenylalanine help my pain and fatigue more than anything! i hope to never have to stop taking those amino acids. i have fibromyalgia/cfids as well. i personally believe most of my fatigue and a good bit of inflammation is due to allergies. allergic reactions make me feel like i have the flu, and it’s only since identifying and removing the causes that i’ve been able find some relief. it sounds like the causes of your pain are likely innocuous. it seems like neuropathy. i personally cannot offer you many suggestions as to how to manage that. the 5-htp and phenylalanine help me, as does lyrica, though its side effect of weight gain has caused me additional problems. best to find a non-prescription drug treatment if at all possible. i’ve come off 60 mg of oxycodone daily, being nearly bedridden, and even manage to exercise now. :) above all, know that it is NOT in your head!! you may not understand it, and even your doctors may not completely understand it, but it is very real. meditation would likely benefit you greatly. handling chronic pain is like a mind game. focus on strengthening your body AND mind, and you will feel your best possible. hang in there…eventually it does get better!

    • While doing a google search on allodynia in the limbs, i found your post about pain in your legs (or hypersensitivity). I know its been three years since you posted this, so maybe much has happened in your life and possibly you have found a doctor to diagnose you.

      I just wanted to say that I have had this for much of my life (15+ years) and never really saw a doctor for it. I have been recently diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy and think that this may have something to do with the painful legs and thighs.

      My pain mostly occurs when pressing on my thighs (or when my daughter would sit on them or crawl on them).

      I hope you found your answer. I just wanted to let you know you’re not alone!!

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  20. Hi
    Just wanted some clarifty if pain relates to peripheral tissue damage that would be primary hyperalgesia and where pain does not relate to peripheral tissue damage or pathology that can be secondary hyperalgesia or allodynia, for example you burn you hand resulting in primary hyperalgesia (oain at the burn site) and the unaffected skin around the burn results in secondary hyperalgesia and would that also be allodynia.

  21. I have two questions,please can you help?

    1. can you describe some important somatic pathways for acute pain?

    2. what is the physiological basis for allodynia?


  22. I have just had rotator cuff surgical repair. I had a deep bruise after surgery down my arm. The doctor siad this was normal bruising which I too think is normal. One and one half week post op I started physical therapy. My fist session I got extremely chilled but the physical therapist and doctor said this was a normal reaction to my first physical therapy as I had probably spiked a mild fever in response. Two weeks post op the bruising was gone but my arm down to the elbow and skin was hyper sensitive to touch of any kind. I still thought it was as a result of a deep bruise. Then, within this two weeks post-op, I developed a light case of shingles. I was treated with Valtrex and a Medrol Pak within 12 hours of the first signs of the lesion blister. Within 6 days I saw a dermatologist who added Prednisone as I had completed the Medrol pak. I still have the skin sensitivity. I still have the skin sensitivity which is painful to touch and I do not know if it is related to inflamation from the shoulder surgery and an injury from a pulled muscle in physical therapy or if this is allodynia pain from the shingles. My orthopedic surgeon gave me a cortisone shot into the shoulder and into the shoulder blade just yesterday. Today, there is no longer skin sensitivity. The full effect of the cortisone shot should take effect with three days. Does anyone have any idea as to whether or not this painful skin sensitivity may or maynot be caused from the shingles outbreak or if it might indeed be related to the surgery and irritation from the torn rotator cuff and inflammation from a pulled muscle? Thanks.

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  26. I’m interested in finding the cause of my 22 yr old daughter’s allodynia from her neck to the bottom of her spine and growing around the sides of her waist, yearly. She also has migraines, optical effects if she doesn’t take meds, lifelong constipation, and had ovarian cysts at an early age that were resolved by medication. We need to stop the pain, so she can stop the drugs so she can be a wife and have children and go on with her life. Can anyone help us??

  27. Hopefully someone sees this, I am trying to piece it together since the doctors can’t seem to. There are multiple issues dating back to the 3rd grade, I am now 29…but I will stick to the allodynia and hyperalgesia. I remember a few times in high school having sore days where it hurt to cross my legs or rest my arm on my desk but it would come on and go away quickly. Well within the past year and a half it has grown exponentially. I am now sore everyday from anything to pants/skirt too tight (I can only wear loosely fitting clothes and can no longer wear jeans because half way through the day my abdomen is in pain and my legs hurt from the seams). Things as simple as resting my arm on my arm rest to crossing my legs. I also cannot really scratch even a little itch, I can only lightly rub because scratching feels like the skin is bruised and it radiates for some time afterwards. I also have found that painful things like something falling on my foot or bumping into something radiates pain for quite some time after and hurts worse than it has before. It is also strange to me that now if I even watch anything on tv from someone slipping or doing anything that would not really hurt me in the past makes me cringe because I think of what it would feel like. Anyone have any help or suggestions?

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  29. Can someone please help? I had excruciating periods from the word go.By the time I was 35 I was having searing lower back pain every month at ovulation which would make me lose the power in predominantly my right leg but sometimes both. By the time I was 40 I had had 7 laparaoscopies and been diagnosed and treated for PCOS and severe endometriosis. Eventually the pain became more and more frequent and in desparation I had a total hysterectomy. The pain became even worse for a year. I have recently been diagnosed with hyperalgesia, allodynia and multiple active myofacial trigger points and multiple muscle problems most likely cause by years of compensation and guarding while enduring long episodes of excruciting pain. I have been advised by my Musculoskeletal Specialist that I should be admitted to a specialized rehabilitation unit for several weeks to get my pain under control, but the chance of getting this help is nearly non existent. My biggest problem is that having seen so many different specialists there is little in the way of communication and willingness to understand each others specialty. As a result I am often the one who bares the brunt. No don’t use opiates, it will make it worse!!!! Why did you not take the opiates early and the pain would not have gotten so out of control!!! What are the best medicines for these conditions and is there something I can mention or refer to the local doctors so I am not villified every time I am force to go there for help when I just can’t bare it anymore.????

  30. Greetings!
    I have fibro and some sad lumbar discs…but have had allodynia for as long as I can remember. I remember being very little and the slightest amount of elastic in sleeves (pushed up a little) would cause my skin to ache. Anyway, I am one of those people who tend to have far worse fibro symptoms + skin ache during PMS time. Also – when I get cold…so I finally took my doctor’s advice and moved to a warm climate…its been a month and I’m feeling better :) Best wishes to all suffers – we need to stick together !

  31. WOW! Finally, an answer to my “weird” skin pain. Since i was a little kid, my skin has hurt….it hurts to the touch. Over the years I have noticed a pattern….when I developed hemmorhoids after childbirth I noticed that just before I would get hemmorhoids, the skin on the back of my right leg down to my knee and the arch of my foot would start to hurt. If I am getting sick such as with a cold, the skin on my arms hurt….stomach virus, my sides will start to hurt. Infection, every square inch of my skin hurts. I also sometimes get the jolts of electricity but they can occur anywhere in my body. It is painful, but I have lived with it so long that I just deal with it all, the clothes rubbing over my skin, sheets hurting my legs….for me the worst part is no one knowing what the heck you are talking about when you say your skin hurts. I even hate it when my husband strokes my hand, that continous motion over my hand feels like grating on a raw nerve. I guess not much I can do about it, and I am not interested in taking painkillers unless it becomes excrutiating, but I am just happy that it has a name and I am not alone or crazy!

  32. I have just been diagnosed with hyperanalgesia as a result of opiates for chronic pain. Can you tell me if the hyperanalgesia will subside since I will no longer be taking the opiates? Or is this just another pain I’ll have to learn to live with?

    • Hi,

      I too am a chronic pain person…peripheral neuropathy. I have been on many different drugs. How did you get off the opiates? What medicine did they change you to?

      Thanks for your help.


    • hurrah hip hip hurrah hurrah. i m not crazy

  33. Hi there!
    As long as i can remember i have been more sensitive to pain than normal, although brushing and bare touch of the skin is not painful to me. Pressure on my body, which to others is not painful, is painful to me. Is this hyperalgesia or allodynia?

  34. The wind can hurt, clothes, touch. Yup, Fibromyalgia ! Thank God someone is doing research to help the millions like me. One thing I don’t understand however is that I can have say a breast operation, or thyroid operation and or my foot and ankle broken and need nothing for pain but let me have a flare up of fibro and God forbid it’s unbearable. Pain meds help but who wants to be dependant on them and also is so hard to get Doctors to give them. I just don’t understand how I can handle some pain and the fibro pain I can not.

  35. i live in the uk. diagnosed by endicronoligist with fibro. three years ago started with parasthesia pain in my right thumb that lasted for 4 months. excruciating pain if i touched it or knocked it. then it went but moved to my little finger of the same hand. and moved back and forth for 18 months then stopped and has not returned. neurologists did so many nerve function tests and an mri scan which showed a haemangioma on c5 but still could not offer me an explanation for the allodynia. unfortunately neurologist does not recognise fibromyalgia even though our National Institute for Clinical Excelence run by our govt recognises it!! I started with allodynia down the inside of my right leg 6 days ago and the doc thought it was shingles, but no spots appeared. so now im stumped and can only think its fibro related. it ruins your life, mainly because it comes and goes and can last for months making planning anything in your life impossible. My fiance is dialysis dependent and I want to be there for him. right now i feel disabled. anybody able to help me?

    • Hello I see this was posted months ago but I was just looking and wanted to offer what little I know. I too have been recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia as well as a predisposition to antiphospholipid syndrome (predisposed to clotting). I say recently diagnosed however this is something I have been seen by doctors for since 2009 and had every test run, more than once, only to be told more than once that I should see a psychiatrist and that they are good, smart doctors and if they can’t find something then there is nothing and it is in my head. Well I knew that wasn’t the case and that just cause they didn’t know doesn’t mean I am wrong. I just recently was seen by a rheumatologist here who after a quick exam said without a doubt it is fibro. (which I’d been tested for, told i didn’t have, and even have in my record “patient thinks she has fibromyalgia”) there are so many theories to the cause but one is stress-related. Or at least stress can exacerbate the symptoms. I’m sure with a partner who is dialysis dependent there is plenty of stress in your life. I know mine gets worse from even the littlest things, ex I have finals this week and my skin is so sore I bump into a table, and when I say bump I mean lightly brush, and I am just about in tears or I get a scratch and “scratch” it and my skin feels bruised and on fire. So basically I believe what you have sounds like fibro for sure and I’m sorry that your doctor refuses to acknowledge it. I know there are meds out there or even things like yoga or acupuncture I heard can help. I haven’t gotten too far into any sort of treatment but plan to attempt to manage it without meds for now, ie yoga and acupuncture. But haven’t done either yet. I have a few pamphlets explaining some things, treaments, etc. good luck and I hope you feel better and get an answer. I know that adds stress in and of itself!

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  39. Can anyone help? I have had this pain since the last 3 months. It seems i have alloydina. Can anyone please tell me what to do? How I can get rid of it? Which type of a doctor to consult? Please help?

  40. regarding fibro, i was diagnosed in the 90s when it was a new term. coincidentally i met a chiropractor who did nutritional tests. one of them was called ALCAT which tested my blood for food sensitivities, not allergies. the results place foods tested in red, yellow, green categories. so for 2 months i ate only what was in the green group. i couldn’t believe how much better i felt after, no brain fog, no aches and pains and i had energy. i started to reintroduce the red foods, one at a time to see if any of them still developed sensitivities. every so often i get the test repeated and it’s a different sensitivity i’ve developed. one time it was tomatoes. so it’s not always junk food. i’ve come to realize the importance in diet and how it affects my energy, my mental clarity and my aches and pains. i don’t know if health insurance would cover it. it’s also important to rotate your foods so you don’t develop a sensitivity. you can google ALCAT test and find the website (not sure if i can post it or not)

    i also get the allodynia in my upper arms, on the underside. it doesn’t last long ( a day or two) and goes away. i’ve never asked a doctor because i’m pretty sure they would only be guessing. i think if it were more persistent, i’d go but so far it’s periodic and doesn’t last long

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  67. I love this article and all the comments! For 12 years now, (it began during my first pregnancy), I began to have this what I call “hyperesthesia” on both of my legs. My legs feel sunburned, or more accurately as though they have razor burn, and wearing pants is horribly uncomfortable, itchy, and painful. Even goosebumps on my skin are painful. The condition would come and go for no apparent reason. I went to dermatologists who sent me to neurologists who sent me to allergists who sent me back to dermatologists. I tried everything for 8 years, then found a neurologist who put me on Lyrica, and bam – just like that – I was better. I took 50 mg 3x a day and for 3 solids years I did not have one incidence of the leg burning and pain. In June, it came back. My doctor upped the Lyrica. Didn’t help. Upped it some more. Suddenly, the Lyrica seems to be having no effect on the hypersensitive nerves. Is it possible to build up such a tolerance for the drug? I may try going off of it for an extended period and re-starting it. The only other thing that give me any relief are lidocaine patches and things like that, but they only cover a small portion of my legs and don’t offer much help. Any thoughts or anyone with a similar condition – I’d love to hear your thoughts!

  68. Deborah Davidson

    Please help me I have fibromyalgia & have been in chronic pain for 18+ yeard. I vannot, sit, walk, stand or sleep without severe pain. I am talking 9 to of 10 & am completely desperate. Will this alleviate the pain, it is all over my body & has ruined my family life.? I cannot even sweep or take care of my home.
    Is this covered by Medicare & Blue Cross Blue Shield supplements

    I am very use place to getting every side affect or reaction to medicine.
    Deborah Davidson

  69. Dear Debora Davidson. I have been in body pain for years and every DR. Ive been to says something different. I don’t wear any clothing at home just a t shirt and sox .When I do go out to shop for food I know where everything is and I go right to it and get home as soon as I can. when I get to the drs. I tell them I need to take off my cloths and they say just hold on for a little bit .Now im getting to the point where im not willing to go through the pain to got no help. They gust don’t understand. When I tell them I have a lit of pain in my groine and at the head and base of my penis they just go through steps and check it out with no results. 8 YEARS AGO I HAD A DR. that really did understand and I saw her every week ontil she had to close her practice due to illness in her family. I deal with depression because ther is no one that I can spend any time to talk with. when you cant put on clothing ,afthr a few years you get really lonely. Even if you have a wife so I kind of understand when you say that you NEED help. I want you to know that your not alone. And I too have bad side affects from meds. SO what do we do? P .S.IM SORRY YOU HAVE THIS.RICHARD.

    • Richard: I an I’m the exact same situation. Have tried every medication, neural stimulator implant, topicals, acupuncture, bloodletting, hypnosis etc etc. The pain when it is activated by clothing is unrelenting and one has to have no clothes and not have anything touch the area – even movement is painful. Perhaps we can compare notes. jim

  70. I Have this burning skin pain. It started 3 months ago in the underside of my forearms. Now, it happens all over, especially on my stomach. All clothing hurts. I’m going to dish out the $$$$ and go to a Functional Medicine doctor. My internist said it’s probably a B 12 deficiency, but B 12 is not helping. It feels better when I am up walking around. Can’t do that 24/7!!!! Good luck, everyone!!!

  71. I have recently been doing some reading on allondyia because I have recently acquired some unexplained skin pain. My skin from the waist down mainly, it varies from time to time between all over my body to just from the waist down, has suddenly become very sensitive to the touch of any form. I went to a doctor the other morning with crippling leg pain accompanied by the extreme sensitivity of my skin; I was turned lose after just two hours and an X-ray with absolutely no explanation and no where to go from there. I am curious as to what kind of doctor or specialist I could see for help. I have suffered from chronic migraines for more than 10 years with no help from the neurological aspect. If anyone could give me some information on what kind of specialist to look for, that would be great.

  72. Hi there, this article has been one of the only few I have found to help explain what’s wrong with me that I can understand. Thank you for posting. I started having severe fatigue and burning in my thighs and buttocks after a sever sciatic flare up. I thought they were related and it was being caused by my sciatica. I then started to get achy in all my joints and it progressed until I was bedridden for 2 months while waiting for a doctors appointment. I saw the doctor and went to a physiotherapist for my sciatica. As I described all my symptoms to her which at that point had developed further and my hands and feet were being greatly affected, I couldn’t even stand wind on my fingers. It starts first on the left side of my body and after a few months the right side starts being affected in the same areas. It became so bad I couldn’t get up out of bed. I was sent to a neuropathic pain specialist who said I have hyperalgesia from damage to my peripheral nerves. I was started on Neurontin (gabapentin) and I have had depression since I was 14, it triggered the worst anxiety and depression I have ever experienced in my life and nearly cut my arm off because the burning was so intense. We quickly changed meds to Cymbalta and I am now on 90 mg which is helping but most days I am still struggling to get out of bed and become mobile. My burning has progressed up my arms into my elbows and shoulders and has recently started moving into my neck and back shoulders. My feet burn severely and my deep perennial nerve in my right calf is affected, my knees burn as well as my thighs…I don’t understand what triggers it. What brings it on? It’s worst after a sleep or nap, and the only other thing I can think is standing? There are so many symtoms they are hard to list. When the burning becomes severe (which you can physically feel the difference on my skin) I start to feel severely sick, lethargic, like how you feel when first coming down with the flu, that ick I need to lay down feeling. After hours of burning my legs and fingers and arms twitch and facial muscles around the left side of my mouth burn and go numb. Its like my whole body gets freezing cold and purple, then all my blood vessels pop up and everything lights up red and hot in all my joints. It affects my mind, it does something to my memory, When people talk to me and I’m in pain it’s like i’m not processing what thy are saying to me properly. I have tested for everything and the blood work came back negative. I have now been put on codeine contin and Tylenol 2’s for breakthrough pain with the Cymbalta which seems to help a little. This illness has taken over my life and I am trying my best to find remedies that will help. So far Ive been learning to ignore my symptoms and get up out of bed as soon as I can and try to smile and get through the day. My doctors have spoke of fibromialgia. My mother is plagued with Fibro and rheumatoid arthritis but her fibro is high functioning and not like this. She doesn’t get the intense burning. My specialist said its my pheripheral nerves “sensitive nerves” are damaged.He said its a chronic pain condition. I have never even heard of these conditions before a few months ago and to anyone that has these symptoms, I feel for you 100% and truly understand the pain. I am trying to find out if this is curable? I have had this ongoing for 1.5 years and desperately want my life back.

    Thank you for listening Angie

  73. Hi angie everything you said I understand. I get all of those symptoms not always at the same time and not always as intense as yours seem to be. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia nearly three years ago After many years of suffering also been on same meds as you. Can you get referred to a rheumatologist who will be able to tell you whether you have fibromyalgia or not. It won’t make any difference to the pain but at least you’d know what it is. I felt relieved when I got diagnosed I knew then it wasn’t all in my head. I have lignacaine infusions every three to four months as this works on the whole body, whereas I think the lignacaine patches only work on the part of the body that they are placed.
    Hope this helps

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  75. Junior Prof Thank you for your interesting article on Hyperalgesia/allodynia. I have intermitent back pain during the 1970′ and 1980’s, by the 90’s and later it became chronic and at least slightly disabling, I am now retired and still dealing with the pain. Most days it is a 1/5 but many days it is a 3/5 and when the sciatic starts its a 7. I have used to many non steroidals according to my heart doctors, am now on 5mg oxycodone 2-3 times daily with some results. My problem is I can’t live a normal life, I can’t do anything at ground level, and bending is very difficult, bending very slightly at the waste can trigger imediate very short pain twinges that might last .1 seconds but they keep me from moving. I am under the care of a nearly retired neurosurgeon, and his PT department but along with PT and swimming 5-6 days a week,I still have to many problems. Thank YOU

  76. Reblogged this on verticalthinking101 and commented:
    If you know someone struggling with chronic pain, this post is very informative. It explains the science behind the pain and how it makes chronic pain sufferers like me feel.
    God bless!

  77. Experimental gardener

    Reblogged this on gardensenses and commented:
    Wonder what is happening in the experience of chronic pain, when the brain is focused on music http://sciencenordic.com/music-can-relieve-chronic-pain

  78. Thanks you for posting.I appreciate it so much. When I tried to learn more about pain, the difference between hyperalgesia and allodynia confused me a lot. just a certain curiousity to see why allodynia can resist to opiate and NSAIDS. I am hopeful to see your answer.

  79. Hi friend
    That post is so helpful for me,i like it very much,thanks a lot!

  80. well the allodynia description is not accurate. because i have T.D. and the pain never goes away. it feels like a sunburn 24/7 (and these ‘hot-spots’ can last up to 2 wks or more. or maybe only 24hrs. it all depends) but if i experience touch in that area,i experience more abundant pain than what i am experiencing already. if that is not T.D. then i want someone to please correct me because i found this info thru personal research as a Dr told me years ago,that it was my imagination.

  81. https://www.ldnresearchtrust.org/content/low-dose-naltrexone-and-chronic-pain-pradeep-chopra-md
    Has anyone experience with ldn in regards to allodynia and or hyperalgesia.

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  85. I have found this article useful. I’ve had allodynia for many years; it used to occur a couple of times a year, would be intensely painful (including aching), hypersensitive to touch and cold. It would last about 3 days. Over the last year it’s started to happen more often, almost always in the torso or arms but recently I had 2 episodes in the leg. I’ve discovered that Panadol Osteo orally and lignocaine cream (a local anaesthetic) on the skin will cut the episode to about 24 hours and decrease the pain a lot. So although it’s happening more often, I feel I can have some control and I feel grateful that I don’t have it as bad as some.

  86. I have fibromyalgia & migraines. On days when they’re bad, the wind hurts me. It hurt to take a shower!!! Today is one of those days. I just want the light, sound & wind to stop bothering me.

    • I completely understand where you are coming from, I have Fibromyalgia and Allodynia. I hope you find some moments of comfort in each day.

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  88. I Appreciate this a lot! I have Allodynia and the information was very helpful. My doctors have put me on opiates which caused me severe pain. And now say they are out of treatment ideas. I have been looking for as much information as I can about this and my Fibromyalgia. Since my doctors can’t explain this it’s up to me to research it. This site gave we some comfort in understanding my recent changes in pain. Thank you

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