Fibromyalgia and tactile allodynia


Tactile allodynia is one of the characteristic symptoms of fibromyalgia . It is a neurological disorder in which a sensation of pain, sometimes intense, can be produced with the simple touch.

In this state, the body perceives pain from harmless physical (tactile) stimuli.

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Fibromyalgia includes several types of pain, including hyperalgesia (excessive pain) and paresthesia (abnormal sensations such as burning or tingling in the absence of stimuli). In addition to fibromyalgia, tactile allodynia can occur with peripheral neuropathy , postherpetic neuralgia , trigeminal neuralgia, and migraine .

Tactile symptoms of allodynia

Tactile allodynia can range from mild to severe. It can affect areas of the entire body or just certain areas. It can be persistent or come and go with flare-ups of symptoms. Sometimes allodynia can be triggered by a trigger, such as scratching or stepping on something sharp.

Allodynia comes in two forms:

  • Mechanical allodynia (associated with physical stimuli)
  • Thermal allodynia (caused by changes in temperature)

Common descriptions of tactile allodynia include:

  • Burning pain from belts, bra straps, socks, or other tight clothing
  • Pain from shirt labels or clothing seams.
  • Pain from cloth sheets, towels, or non-abrasive blankets.
  • Pain when rubbing against objects.
  • Pain from hugging or even shaking hands firmly
  • Pain when you take something cold out of the refrigerator or freezer.
  • Pain when entering extreme cold


Tactile allodynia is a form of pain that occurs when the nociceptors , which are specialized nerves, do not work properly. Nociceptors perceive information about their environment, such as temperature, pressure, and conditions, that can damage it at the cutaneous (cutaneous) level.

Do you know how your hand will get out of a hot burner before you realize that you are about to get burned? This is due to the unique action of nociceptors, in which a reflex response is triggered without the need for a separate signal from the brain.

In fibromyalgia, the nociceptors can perceive normal sensations as painful. The researchers believe that this is the result of a central sensitization . The pain caused by fibromyalgia is not caused locally in the peripheral nervous system , but a general increase in pain in the central nervous system .

Watch out

Many treatments that reduce fibromyalgia symptoms can help relieve symptoms of tactile allodynia. Treatment options include:

  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • SNRIs such as Cymbalta (duloxetine) and Effexor (venlafaxine)
  • Anticonvulsants, especially Lyrica (pregabalin) and Neurontin (gabapentin)
  • Topical lidocaine

Some people also benefit from topical pain relievers, such as Tiger Balm, Aspercreme, BioFreeze, and capsaicin ointments and patches. You can also identify and avoid triggers that trigger allodynia flare-ups.

Frequently asked questions

  • Allodynia is a type of nerve pain that occurs in response to something that usually does not cause pain. For example, you may feel pain from a shirt tag or from touching a glass of cold water.

  • The most common conditions include fibromyalgia, migraine, diabetes, and shingles.

  • Your doctor may prescribe oral medications such as Lyrica (pregabalin) or topical medications such as lidocaine. Other options may include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and biofeedback to help modify your response to pain.

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