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Allodynia

What to know about allodynia

Someone who has allodynia feels pain from non-painful stimuli. For example, a person may feel pain from a light touch or when brushing their hair.
Allodynia can be a symptom of several different nerve conditions, or it can occur on its own.
Allodynia is not the same thing as an increased response to painful stimuli.
Some people feel extreme pain from something minor, such as a paper cut. Feeling increased pain or being hypersensitive to mild pain is called hyperalgesia.
Individuals with allodynia, however, feel pain when something is ordinarily painless.

Symptoms

Allodynia is characterized by intense feelings of pain with no clear cause.
Pain is one of the body’s protective mechanisms. It tells a person to stop doing something that is harmful.
For instance, a pain response causes a person to pull their hand away from a hot stove, preventing a severe burn. But people with allodynia perceive pain even though there is nothing harmful causing the pain.
The main symptom of allodynia is pain from non-painful stimuli.
Some people with allodynia may experience severe pain even from a few hairs brushing against their skin.
Symptoms can vary from mild to severe. Some people may feel a burning sensation while others feel an ache or squeezing pain.
Allodynia can limit the activities a person is able to do and decrease their quality of life. Common complications of allodynia include:
depression
anxiety
sleep disturbances
fatigue

Types of allodynia
There are three main types of allodynia, which are classified according to what causes the pain.
Regardless of the type of allodynia, pain is still the main symptom. Some people may only have one type of allodynia. Others may have all three types of the condition.
Types of allodynia include:
Thermal allodynia: Thermal allodynia causes temperature-related pain. Pain occurs due to a mild change of temperature on the skin. For example, a few drops of cold water on the skin may be painful.
Mechanical allodynia: Movement across the skin causes mechanical allodynia. For instance, bedsheets pulled across a person’s skin may be painful.
Tactile allodynia: Tactile allodynia, also called static allodynia, occurs due to light touch or pressure on the skin. For example, a tap on the shoulder may cause pain for someone with tactile allodynia.

Causes and risk factors

Something as simple as hair being brushed may cause intense pain to someone with allodynia.
The exact cause of allodynia is not known.
Allodynia may occur due to increased responsiveness or malfunction of nociceptors, which are a particular type of nerve.
Having one of the following medical conditions may also increase a person’s risk of developing allodynia.
Migraines: Migraines can cause debilitating head pain, but a headache is often not the only symptom. Migraines can also cause additional symptoms, such as nausea and sensitivity to sound and light. According to the American Migraine Foundation, up to 80 percent of people experience symptoms of allodynia during a migraine.
Postherpetic neuralgia: Postherpetic neuralgia is a complication of shingles, which is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox. Shingles can cause damage to the nerve fibers, which leads to persistent nerve pain and is associated with allodynia.
Fibromyalgia: Fibromyalgia is a medical condition that causes widespread pain in the body. The cause of fibromyalgia is not known, but there does appear to be a genetic link in some instances. There also seems to be a connection between allodynia and fibromyalgia.
Diabetes: Over time, diabetes can cause damage to nerves, increasing the likelihood that a person will develop allodynia. Nerve growth factor (NGF) is essential to the nervous system, and some experts have suggested that diabetes can lower NGF levels. A recent study in rodents showed that low levels of NGF led to both hyperalgesia and allodynia.
Complex regional pain syndrome: Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a long-term pain condition that tends to affect one limb, typically after the person injures the area. People believe CRPS occurs due to problems with the nervous systems.

Diagnosis and when to see a doctor
There is not one specific medical test to diagnose allodynia. Instead, a doctor will perform a physical exam, take a medical history, and review a person’s symptoms.
Many common conditions can cause chronic pain, so doctors may need to rule out certain medical conditions before they can make a diagnosis of allodynia.
Various nerve sensitivity tests may also be performed to help make a diagnosis.
Anyone who experiences pain from non-painful stimuli, such as light touch, should see their doctor.
Dealing with chronic pain that develops after even the mildest touch can be frustrating and upsetting. Receiving an accurate diagnosis can help someone start the treatment and management process.

Treatment

Topical creams may help to treat the symptoms of allodynia. Recommended treatment will be based on the cause of the condition.
Currently, there is no cure for allodynia. Treatment is aimed at decreasing pain, using medications and lifestyle changes.
Pregabalin is a medication used to treat nerve pain associated with conditions, such as spinal cord injuries, diabetes, fibromyalgia, and shingles. It may also decrease pain in some people with allodynia.
Topical pain medications, such as creams and ointments containing lidocaine, may be helpful in some cases. Over-the-counter, non-steroidal medicines may also be effective.
Complementary approaches to pain management, such as acupuncture and massage, may not be tolerated as they involve touch and can lead to discomfort for a person with allodynia.
Treating an underlying condition that is causing allodynia may also help. For example, preventing migraines or treating migraines straightaway can help reduce the risk of allodynia symptoms. Getting diabetes under good control can also be helpful.
Some people might find that lifestyle changes, such as light exercise, a healthful diet, and getting enough sleep might help.
Research shows that smokers experience more chronic pain than nonsmokers. Quitting smoking can be beneficial on many levels, from improving circulation to decreasing inflammation.
Although living a healthful lifestyle will not cure allodynia, it can enhance overall health and help people with the condition cope more efficiently.
Identifying and decreasing pain triggers as much as possible may also reduce symptoms. It may not be possible to limit all the things that cause discomfort, but some changes may help.
For example, it might not be reasonable for someone to shave their head if brushing their hair hurts. But switching to a different type of brush or brushing it less frequently may be possible.
Similarly, if certain fabrics hurt the skin, a person can try clothing made of a different, less irritating material.
Stress may make the pain worse in some people. So, learning stress management techniques may also help.
Although stress reduction may not improve allodynia in every case, developing better stress management techniques can help a person cope with their condition.

Outlook
Allodynia is not life-threatening, but it can make daily life difficult and cause frustrating limitations. It can also lead to anxiety and other mental health conditions.
The outlook for people with allodynia varies depending on the severity of the condition. Taking a comprehensive approach to treatment can improve the outlook.
Using a combination of pain management techniques along with lifestyle changes may decrease symptoms of allodynia.
A holistic approach can also help someone feel more in control of their condition and improve their overall quality of life.

Last medically reviewed on August 10, 2017

Article Provided By: Medical News Today

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Paresthesia

What Is Paresthesia?

If you’ve ever felt as though your skin was crawling, or had numbness or itching for no apparent reason, you may have experienced paresthesia.
Almost everyone has experienced paresthesia on occasion. One of the most common times people get that familiar feeling of pins and needles is when their arms or legs “fall asleep.” This sensation usually occurs because you’ve inadvertently put pressure on a nerve. It resolves once you change your position to remove the pressure from the affected nerve. This type of paresthesia is temporary and usually resolves without treatment. If the paresthesia persists, you may have an underlying medical disorder that requires treatment.
What are the symptoms of paresthesia?
Paresthesia can affect any part of the body, but it commonly affects the:
hands
arms
legs
feet
It can be temporary or chronic. The symptoms can include feelings of:
numbness
weakness
tingling
burning
cold
Chronic paresthesia may cause a stabbing pain. That may lead to clumsiness of the affected limb. When paresthesia occurs in your legs and feet, it can make it difficult to walk.
See your doctor if you have symptoms of paresthesia that persist or affect with your quality of life. It could be a sign that you have an underlying medical condition that needs treatment.

What causes paresthesia?
It’s not always possible to determine the cause of paresthesia. Temporary paresthesia is often due to pressure on a nerve or brief periods of poor circulation. This can happen when you fall asleep on your hand or sit with your legs crossed for too long. Chronic paresthesia may be a sign of nerve damage. Two types of nerve damage are radiculopathy and neuropathy.
Radiculopathy
Radiculopathy is a condition in which nerve roots become compressed, irritated, or inflamed. This can occur when you have:
a herniated disk that presses on a nerve
a narrowing of the canal that transmits the nerve from your spinal cord to your extremity
any mass that compresses the nerve as it exits the spinal column
Radiculopathy that affects your lower back is called lumbar radiculopathy. Lumbar radiculopathy can cause paresthesia in your leg or foot. In more severe cases, compression of the sciatic nerve can occur and may lead to weakness in your legs. The sciatic nerve is a large nerve that starts in your lower spinal cord.
Cervical radiculopathy involves the nerves that provide sensation and strength to your arms. If you have cervical radiculopathy, you may experience:
chronic neck pain
paresthesia of the upper extremities
arm weakness
hand weakness
Neuropathy
Neuropathy occurs due to chronic nerve damage. The most common cause of neuropathy is hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar.
Other possible causes of neuropathy include:
trauma
repetitive movement injuries
autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis
neurological diseases, such as MS
kidney diseases
liver diseases
stroke
tumors in the brain or near nerves
bone marrow or connective tissue disorders
hypothyroidism
deficiencies in vitamin B-1, B-6, B-12, E, or niacin
getting too much vitamin D
infections, such as Lyme disease, shingles, or HIV
certain medications, such as chemotherapy drugs
exposure to toxic substances, such as chemicals or heavy metals
Nerve damage can eventually lead to permanent numbness or paralysis.

Who is at risk for paresthesia?
Anyone can experience temporary paresthesia. Your risk of radiculopathy increases with age. You also may be more prone to it if you:
perform repetitive movements that repeatedly compress your nerves, such as typing, playing an instrument, or playing a sport such as tennis
drink heavily and eat a poor diet that leads to vitamin deficiencies, specifically vitamin B-12 and folate
have type 1 or 2 diabetes
have an autoimmune condition
have a neurological condition, such as MS

 

How is paresthesia diagnosed?
See your doctor if you have persistent paresthesia with no obvious cause.
Be prepared to give your medical history. Mention any activities you participate in that involve repetitive movement. You should also list any over-the-counter or prescription medications that you take.
Your doctor will consider your known health conditions to help them make a diagnosis. If you have diabetes, for example, your doctor will want to determine if you have nerve damage, or neuropathy.
Your doctor will probably perform a full physical exam. This will likely include a neurological exam as well. Blood work and other laboratory tests, such as a spinal tap, may help them rule out certain diseases.
If your doctor suspects there’s a problem with your neck or spine, they may recommend imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRI scans.
Depending on the results, they may refer you to a specialist, such as a neurologist, orthopedist, or endocrinologist.

What is the treatment for paresthesia?
Treatment depends on the cause of your paresthesia. It may be possible to treat your condition by eliminating the cause in some cases. For example, if you have a repetitive movement injury, a few lifestyle adjustments or physical therapy may solve the problem.
If your paresthesia is due to an underlying disease, getting treatment for that disease can potentially ease the symptoms of paresthesia.
Your individual circumstances will determine whether your symptoms will improve. Some types of nerve damage are irreversible.

What is the outlook for people with paresthesia?
Temporary paresthesia usually resolves within a few minutes.
You may have a case of chronic paresthesia if those strange sensations don’t go away or they come back far too often. It can complicate your daily life if the symptoms are severe. That’s why it’s so important to try to find the cause. Don’t hesitate to seek a second opinion or see a specialist if necessary.
The severity of chronic paresthesia and how long it will last largely depends on the cause. In some cases, treating the underlying condition solves the problem.
Be sure to tell your doctor if your treatment isn’t working so they can adjust your treatment plan.
How can you prevent paresthesia?
Paresthesia isn’t always preventable. For instance, you probably can’t help it if you tend to fall asleep on your arms. You can take steps to reduce the occurrence or severity of paresthesia, though. For example, using wrist splints at night may alleviate the compression of the nerves of your hand and help resolve the symptoms of paresthesia you experience at night.
Follow these tips for preventing chronic paresthesia:
Avoid repetitive movement if possible.
Rest often if you need to perform repetitive movements.
Get up and move around as often as possible if you have to sit for long periods.
If you have diabetes or any other chronic disease, careful monitoring and disease management will help lower your chances of having paresthesia.

Article Provided By: healthline

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Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy

Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy
Timothy J Brown, MD; Ramy Sedhom, MD; Arjun Gupta, MD
Article Information
JAMA Oncol. 2019;5(5):750. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2018.6771

Peripheral neuropathy refers to symptoms arising from damage to peripheral nerves. These nerves carry sensation, control movements of the arms and legs, and control the bladder and bowel. Chemotherapy and other drugs used to treat cancer can cause peripheral neuropathy. This is termed chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (or CIPN).

What Increases the Risk of Developing CIPN?
Certain chemotherapy drugs are more likely to cause neuropathy. These include: platinum drugs, such as oxaliplatin; taxanes, such as docetaxel; vinca alkaloids, such as vincristine; and myeloma treatments, such as bortezomib.
Other chemotherapy drugs can also cause neuropathy. The risk of developing CIPN is higher with higher doses, multiple courses, and combination chemotherapy. Patients are more likely to develop CIPN if they are older or have diabetes, vitamin deficiencies, or preexisting peripheral neuropathy.
How Can I Reduce My Risk of Developing CIPN?
No medication or supplement has been shown to definitively prevent CIPN. Regular exercise, reducing alcohol use, and treating preexisting medical conditions (vitamin B12 deficiency) may reduce the risk of CIPN.
What Are the Symptoms and Complications of CIPN?
Depending on the nerves affected, symptoms include:

Tingling (“pins and needles”)
Pain, which may be severe and constant, may come and go, or may feel like burning
Decreased sensation (“legs feel like jelly”)
Increased sensitivity to touch, temperature, pressure, pain
Muscle weakness

Symptoms can appear hours to days after chemotherapy and may reduce in intensity with time. Commonly, symptoms occur weeks to months after chemotherapy. They can get worse with additional cycles of chemotherapy.
What Should I Do If I Develop Symptoms?
You should notify your care team. Symptoms are likely to worsen if not addressed. Your oncologist can diagnose CIPN based on symptoms and by examining you. Specialized testing is rarely needed.
I Have CIPN—What Now?
One should avoid injury by paying attention to home safety, such as by using handrails on stairs to prevent falls and potholders in the kitchen to avoid burns. Your oncologist may choose to discontinue or reduce the dose of a chemotherapy drug. Your oncologist may recommend over-the-counter pain medications, lidocaine patches, menthol creams, or a medication called duloxetine. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and rehabilitation may be helpful to regain function. Studies are researching how novel therapies (biofeedback or scrambler therapy) can help. Improvements in function may be gradual. In some cases, nerve damage may be permanent.

Article Provided By: JAMA

 

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Neuropathic Pain Management

Neuropathic Pain Management

Neuropathic pain is often described as a shooting or burning pain. It can go away on its own but is often chronic. Sometimes it is unrelenting and severe, and sometimes it comes and goes. It often is the result of nerve damage or a malfunctioning nervous system. The impact of nerve damage is a change in nerve function both at the site of the injury and areas around it.
One example of neuropathic pain is called phantom limb syndrome. This rare condition occurs when an arm or a leg has been removed because of illness or injury, but the brain still gets pain messages from the nerves that originally carried impulses from the missing limb. These nerves now misfire and cause pain.
Causes of Neuropathic Pain
Neuropathic pain often seems to have no obvious cause. But some common causes of neuropathic pain include:
Alcoholism
Amputation
Chemotherapy
Diabetes
Facial nerve problems
HIV infection or AIDS
Multiple myeloma
Multiple sclerosis
Nerve or spinal cord compression from herniated discs or from arthritis in the spine
Shingles
Spine surgery
Syphilis
Thyroid problems
Symptoms of Neuropathic Pain
Neuropathic pain symptoms may include:

Shooting and burning pain
Tingling and numbness

Diagnosing Neuropathic Pain
To diagnose neuropathic pain, a doctor will conduct an interview and physical exam. He or she may ask questions about how you would describe your pain, when the pain occurs, or whether anything specific triggers the pain. The doctor will also ask about your risk factors for neuropathic pain and may also request both blood and nerve tests.
Neuropathic Pain Treatment
Anticonvulsant and antidepressant drugs are often the first line of treatment. Some neuropathic pain studies suggest the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Aleve or Motrin, may ease pain. Some people may require a stronger painkiller. Be sure to discuss the pros and cons of the medicine you take with your doctor.

If another condition, such as diabetes, is involved, better management of that disorder may alleviate the pain. Effective management of the condition can also help prevent further nerve damage.
In cases that are difficult to treat, a pain specialist may use an invasive or implantable device to effectively manage the pain. Electrical stimulation of the nerves involved in neuropathic pain may significantly control the pain symptoms.
Other kinds of treatments can also help with neuropathic pain. Some of these include:
Physical therapy
Working with a counselor
Relaxation therapy
Massage therapy
Acupuncture
Unfortunately, neuropathic pain often responds poorly to standard pain treatments and occasionally may get worse instead of better over time. For some people, it can lead to serious disability. A multidisciplinary approach that combines therapies, however, can be a very effective way to provide relief from neuropathic pain.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Tyler Wheeler, MD on August 11, 2019

Article Provided By: Webmd

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Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral Neuropathy

There are more than 100 types of peripheral neuropathy, each with its own set of symptoms and prognosis.
Peripheral neuropathy has many different causes. One of the most common causes of peripheral neuropathy in the U.S. is diabetes.
The most common type of peripheral neuropathy is diabetic neuropathy, caused by a high sugar level and resulting in nerve fiber damage in your legs and feet.
Symptoms can range from tingling or numbness in a certain body part to more serious effects, such as burning pain or paralysis.

Peripheral neuropathy is a type of damage to the nervous system. Specifically, it is a problem with your peripheral nervous system. This is the network of nerves that sends information from your brain and spinal cord (central nervous system) to the rest of your body.
Peripheral Neuropathy Causes
Peripheral neuropathy has many different causes. Some people inherit the disorder from their parents. Others develop it because of an injury or another disorder.
In many cases, a different type of problem, such as a kidney condition or a hormone imbalance, leads to peripheral neuropathy. One of the most common causes of peripheral neuropathy in the U.S. is diabetes.
Peripheral Neuropathy Types
There are more than 100 types of peripheral neuropathy, each with its own set of symptoms and prognosis. To help doctors classify them, they are often broken down into the following categories:
Motor neuropathy. This is damage to the nerves that control muscles and movement in the body, such as moving your hands and arms or talking.
Sensory neuropathy. Sensory nerves control what you feel, such as pain, temperature or a light touch. Sensory neuropathy affects these groups of nerves.
Autonomic nerve neuropathy. Autonomic nerves control functions that you are not conscious of, such as breathing and heartbeat. Damage to these nerves can be serious.
Combination neuropathies. You may have a mix of 2 or 3 of these other types of neuropathies, such as a sensory-motor neuropathy.
Peripheral Neuropathy Symptoms
The symptoms of peripheral neuropathy vary based on the type that you have and what part of the body is affected. Symptoms can range from tingling or numbness in a certain body part to more serious effects such as burning pain or paralysis.
Muscle weakness
Cramps
Muscle twitching
Loss of muscle and bone
Changes in skin, hair, or nails
Numbness
Loss of sensation or feeling in body parts
Loss of balance or other functions as a side effect of the loss of feeling in the legs, arms, or other body parts
Emotional disturbances
Sleep disruptions
Loss of pain or sensation that can put you at risk, such as not feeling an impending heart attack or limb pain
Inability to sweat properly, leading to heat intolerance
Loss of bladder control, leading to infection or incontinence
Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting because of a loss of control over blood pressure
Diarrhea, constipation, or incontinence related to nerve damage in the intestines or digestive tract
Trouble eating or swallowing
Life-threatening symptoms, such as difficulty breathing or irregular heartbeat
The symptoms of peripheral neuropathy may look like other conditions or medical problems. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Peripheral Neuropathy Diagnosis
The symptoms and body parts affected by peripheral neuropathy are so varied that it may be hard to make a diagnosis. If your healthcare provider suspects nerve damage, he or she will take an extensive medical history and do a number of neurological tests to determine the location and extent of your nerve damage. These may include:
Blood tests
Spinal fluid tests
Muscle strength tests
Tests of the ability to detect vibrations
Depending on what basic tests reveal, your healthcare provider may want to do more in-depth scanning and other tests to get a better look at your nerve damage. Tests may include:
CT scan
MRI scan
Electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction studies
Nerve and skin biopsy
Peripheral Neuropathy Treatment
Usually a peripheral neuropathy can’t be cured, but you can do a lot of things to prevent it from getting worse. If an underlying condition like diabetes is at fault, your healthcare provider will treat that first and then treat the pain and other symptoms of neuropathy.
In some cases, over-the-counter pain relievers can help. Other times, prescription medicines are needed. Some of these medicines include mexiletine, a medicine developed to correct irregular heart rhythms; antiseizure drugs, such as gabapentin, phenytoin, and carbamazepine; and some classes of antidepressants, including tricyclics such as amitriptyline.
Lidocaine injections and patches may help with pain in other instances. And in extreme cases, surgery can be used to destroy nerves or repair injuries that are causing neuropathic pain and symptoms.
Peripheral Neuropathy Prevention
Lifestyle choices can play a role in preventing peripheral neuropathy. You can lessen your risk for many of these conditions by avoiding alcohol, correcting vitamin deficiencies, eating a healthy diet, losing weight, avoiding toxins, and exercising regularly. If you have kidney disease, diabetes, or other chronic health condition, it is important to work with your healthcare provider to control your condition, which may prevent or delay the onset of peripheral neuropathy.
Peripheral Neuropathy Management
Even if you already have some form of peripheral neuropathy, healthy lifestyle steps can help you feel your best and reduce the pain and symptoms related to the disorder. You’ll also want to quit smoking, not let injuries go untreated, and be meticulous about caring for your feet and treating wounds to avoid complications, such as the loss of a limb.
In some cases, non-prescription hand and foot braces can help you make up for muscle weakness. Orthotics can help you walk better. Relaxation techniques, such as yoga, may help ease emotional as well as physical symptoms.

 

Article Provided By: hopkinsmedicine

 

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