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Bruised forehead and allodynia post-migraine

Over five years ago, I finally asked my blog readers if they had ever experienced scalp and hair pain. I’d had scalp and hair pain before, during, and after migraine headaches for years at that point, but it seemed like such a strange thing I didn’t want to bring it up. I’d had the same sensation in my arms and legs after really bad migraines but never made the connection until I learned about allodynia. (Side note: we have several articles on Migraine.com dealing with allodynia—just do a search for the word in the upper-righthand corner of the screen and you can learn more.)

Lately my allodynia seems to be most common on my buttocks (what…?) my forehead, and my ears, particularly after a multi-day migraine episode.

I’ve had that bruised feeling all over my body, but I still find it fascinating how it migrates. Sometimes my legs hurt the most; sometimes it’s my jaw that feels bruised. For a few months, it disappeared all together—I thought perhaps I wouldn’t have allodynia as a side effect/result of a migraine again. But then the pain and sensitivity came back with a vengeance, and now it seems I have it most days, even migraine-free ones.

Having the pain and sensitivity on my forehead and ears is a pretty new sensation, and one that hasn’t gone away for most of this month, whether or not I’m recovering from a migraine or gearing up for my next one. I feel a slight pinch of pain in my eyebrows even when I just raise them, and when I rub my forehead I feel as if I have a million little invisible bruises right under my skin.


Times like this I can get a little desperate. It feels as if migraine disease is taking over my life. I mean, even on migraine-free days, my body is in pain. I can’t wear earrings that are heavy in the least—on good days they just annoy me, and on bad days it feels as if I have barbells hanging from bruised earlobes. I look around at other people and think, “No fair! I want to be able to wear headbands/high ponytails/hair clips/heavy necklaces/big, dangly earrings. But everything HURTS ME!” On good days, I don’t think much about it, taking for granted my temporary pain-free status.

Recently, Jim and I were at this awesome African shop in Venice Beach, California. I found some really great earrings, and Jim wanted to buy me a pair. The salesman explained the origin of the earrings, and I marveled at the craftsmanship. “Here, I’ll get them down for you,” the salesman offered, and he handed me the earrings. They weren’t super-heavy, but I knew they’d seem to gain weight after about two minutes in my ears. Jim asked if he could buy them for me, but I knew that I’d probably never actually wear these beautiful items. I said no, thank you, and we all—Jim, salesman, and I—were disappointed.

Do you suffer from allodynia? Does this sensation seem directly linked to a particular migraine episode, or does it seem to live by its own schedule? Have you ever tried to explain the feeling to someone else? If so, what was the listener’s reaction?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Liz Flynn
    3 years ago

    I have to wonder if I experience this. My kneejerk reaction was a resounding no but I do experience a sciatica sort of effect that at first I’d thought was a reaction to med sensitivity (I react to so many meds), and then decided to ignore because it seemed to be sciatica which I feared was rated to my post-50 age. There’s the full body ache and more. So much hurts, so many odd symptoms and I hate taking an inventory of it all because then I speak of it to others … and others have a difficult time understanding/believing/investing any patience what with all of the twisty turniness of it all.

  • nosirrah
    3 years ago

    I have fibromyalgia along with chronic migraine, and allodynia is a symptom of both. I also get it on my buttocks and down the backs of my legs, which is oh so much fun. I seem to get it along places were it is virtually impossible to keep things from touching it… ankles in the winter, other parts of the legs and arms, abdomen. One time I had it along the trigeminal nerve in my face, and 1 strand of hair touching it hurt, but pulling my hair back in a pony tail or clip hurt my hair.

    I get the hair hurting. When I saw my new neurologist, I realized he understood when he said “when you wake up and your hair hurts, that’s when you need to use the injection of imitrex”. I felt like hugging him because he understood. I’ve told doctors in the past that my hair hurts and I get the “you’re crazy” look.

    When dealing with chronic pain conditions, I honestly believe that our perception of stimuli gets so stressed that we end up with issues like allodynia. It’s not fun and not easy to explain to people who already have no concept of chronic pain.

  • amyb1654
    3 years ago

    Yes I have the bruised feeling in my forehead. The hairs on top of my hair hurt if to move them. Also my scalp feels bruised. My jaw feels numb. I get pain down front of my neck. Now I’ve noticed I’m getting a sore throat only when I have the a Migraine, when it stops my throat doesn’t hurt either.

  • msruff
    5 years ago

    @TheMigraineGirl – Thanks so much for the DHE information. I know for me, it’s the only thing that will abort a migraine, but I’m hoarding it now, scared that it won’t be available and I’ll need it later. That just doesn’t seem right to me.

  • msruff
    5 years ago

    @lovesthequiet – I have just started experiencing the symptoms you are describing, that my skin is on fire, and anything – even my shirt – hurts when it touches it. It also has a name, synesthesia. The thing is, if it’s localized to one spot, and they can target a single nerve as the cause, they can kill the nerve to relieve the pain. But – and this is a big but – if it’s as widespread as you and I are both experiencing, there is nothing they can do about it. Boy, am I tired of hearing that line.

  • msruff
    5 years ago

    Wow, it actually has a name. Allodynia – I’m going to have to remember that. I thought I was crazy telling people my hair hurt, because, technically, it’s a dead waste product of the body, but it does hurt. Thanks.

    And if anyone out there takes DHE (injection) as an abortive, like I do, be aware that the manufacturer has stopped making it – either temporarily or permanently, I don’t know. I’ll definitely keep everyone posted.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    5 years ago

    Thanks for the comment, msruff! I know I felt more validated once I realized this sensation/condition had an official word: allodynia.

    Other Migraine.com contributors/moderators might have more information about DHE, but I know I have seen mixed reports about the drug’s availability. You can read more about DHE here: http://migraine.com/migraine-treatment/dhe-45-for-migraine-headaches/

    And of course this webpage is always handy when you’re wanting to do more independent research about treatment options: http://migraine.com/blog/where-to-find-accurate-information-about-migraine-treatments-medications/

    If I hear anything definitive about DHE and its availability, I’ll get in touch! Fingers crossed you’ll have the meds you need when you need them.

    Take care,
    Janet G.
    “The Migraine Girl”

  • Nancy Stein
    5 years ago

    Ah, allodynia. The thing that makes blankets painful, and the HAIR ON MY ARMS hurt. I also have fibromyalgia, so is the allodynia from that, or from the migraines, or are they all part of a whole?
    I hear you on the earring thing. I have short hair and I looooove earrings. But, I have to judge the weight carefully.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    5 years ago

    Glad to know I have company on the heavy earring front, Nancy Stein! ;-/

    I have other chronic health conditions as well, and I often wonder if the allodynia is from my psoriatic arthritis or migraine or both or neither. Sometimes I wish my brain would get it together! 😉

    Take care,
    Janet G.
    “The Migraine Girl”

  • Rhonda
    5 years ago

    While I certainly wouldn’t wish for anyone else to experience migraines – it sure is nice to know that I’m neither alone nor crazy:-)

  • migrainestl
    5 years ago

    I used to think it was my Imitrex that made the top of my head hurt so badly, but now I realize it’s the migraine itself. I’m chronic & always in some level of pain so I guess that explains as well why headbands & ponytails are so painful.

  • lovesthequiet
    5 years ago

    It’s either my skin feeling like it’s on fire, bruised or I over overworked muscles all over. Right now from the back of neck all the way down my back and arms it’s almost like someone gave me a REALLY deep, uncomfortable massage that hurts the next day. What I wouldn’t give for a heating pad… I also notice that any triptan makes it much worse. I haven’t taken a triptan in a while since I have developed hemiplegic/complex migraines and my neuro has warned against using them due to risk of stroke, but they definitely make the allodynia much worse for me.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    5 years ago

    lovesthequiet: Your comments make me want to keep track of the severity of my allodynia in relation to my triptan usage. The more we uncover patterns, the better we’ll be able to take care of ourselves.

    Others who are concerned about triptan usage and hemiplegic migraine can read the following webpage, paying close attention to the last paragraph: http://migraine.com/pro/triptans-clinical-efficacy-and-safety/

    Thanks for your comment, and I hope you’re feeling okay today.

    -Janet G.
    “The Migraine Girl”

  • tina gascon
    5 years ago

    Boy do I know that feeling. Every time I get a migraine, I get allodynia. I can’t be touched. Even the cat laying against my leg hurts. My hair hurting is the worst. My sisters (all migraine sufferers) know it too. There is no way that I can even get a shower.

  • Lisa Brecht
    5 years ago

    This is one of the best blog pieces I’ve read on this site. FINALLY! Something to explain why I feel like a mack-truck has taken me down during and after migraines. There are times when I cannot wash my hair…..because it hurts!! Thank you, migraine girl. I had NO idea there was a name for my symptoms and am glad to know I’m not alone.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    5 years ago

    Lisa,

    Thank you so much for commenting. I can’t tell you how pleased I am to know that this post really hit home for you. I know that, for me at least, having a name/diagnosis for what I’m dealing with makes me feel incredibly validated.

    Take care; hope you’re feeling okay today!

    -Janet G.
    “The Migraine Girl”

  • Ujima Moore
    5 years ago

    Oh wow! I now have a name to what I have been experiencing after an episode. No matter the length One week or three months I have experienced bruising of the forehead, hair ache and some arm bruising. I can’t even wear a simple pony tail or loose head band. I thought I was the only person in the world experiencing this weird set of symptoms. When I describe it to people everyone looks at me like I am exaggerating or they are at a lost having never experienced something like this. I have even had head scans that come out fine when I visit the ER for migraines. Articles like this validate my sanity and provide much needed knowledge. I am not the only one experiencing this. Thank you!

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    5 years ago

    Feel free to share this article and our other links about allodynia with those skeptical folks, Ujima Moore!

    I’m sorry you deal with allodynia but am glad you have found a community of folks who know what you’re going through.

    Take care; hope you’re feeling okay today.

    -Janet G.
    “The Migraine Girl”

  • mwebb1963
    5 years ago

    I thought I was crazy when I had this happen when I was in my 20’s until a doctor told me that I had a migraine. I realized I have had migraines since I was in grade school and having my hair hurt was a common occurrence for me. I know this probably sounds crazy, but I am glad others experience this too.

  • seagypsy
    5 years ago

    I have had times my hair has hurt so much I’ve wanted to shave my head. It was probably a good thing I didn’t have ready access to a shaver at those times. I’ve also noticed that when I am stressed I love a nice foot rub. But, when I have a bad run of migraine I cannot stand to have my legs and feet touched at all. It is like the nerve endings are completely raw and it really painful. As the migraine worsens, so does the allodynia; soon enough it’s an all-over body experience. It’s like a bad case of the flu.

  • MigraineSal
    5 years ago

    I described this sensitisation in my skull to my Neurologist and how it was preventing me from wearing a light headband I had worn for years when he gave me the results of the MRI of my neck last year and I didn’t get any explanation but to be honest I was more concerned about the quite severe degenerative changes and entrapment of the nerve roots at C4 and C6. I had been prescribed Topiramate and this did alleviate the migraines and just left me with a dull daily headache but I was happy to trade this off for upping the dosage. 4 months later the skull sensitisation returned with a vengeance and was so debilitating that I was not able to wear my glasses and this gave me additional sensory issues, which had an even greater impact on my life and it also meant that I was unable to lay for long and sleep became an bigger issue. I still didn’t associate this sensitivity with migraines because it had never been explained to me and I had naively mistaken it as pain related to my neck condition. I begrudgingly increased my Topiramate dosage and thankfully the sensitivity improved but I now find that I am suffering with C4 flare up triggered migraines ! Feeling pretty frustrated as I am on stronger preventative meds than I really wanted and they seemed to be doing the trick, albeit with a dull head each day yet I am still getting migraines . . . who said I wasn’t lucky . . . I am just unfortunately to have 2 conditions at the same time, one of which triggers migraines, which would otherwise have been well controlled ! I don’t usually suffer with nausea ( thankfully ) and if I do it is only for a couple of hours and quite mild but the last one lasted 60 hours and I could just not get away from it . . . thanks C4 !

    All that said I do feel sooo much more empowered having spent hours and hours researching this awful disease and finding support and encouragement from this invaluable site . . . where would we be without the internet . . . alone . . . sad and even more frustrated me thinks !

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    5 years ago

    MigraineSal,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I hate to hear that you’re dealing with daily headaches in addition to your migraine episodes. I know you see a neurologist, but it may be worth your time to see a migraine specialist who can perhaps help you feel even better. You can read more here: http://migraine.com/blog/making-decision-see-headache-specialist/

    In the meantime, thank you for reading articles on the site and for being a part of this community. You are DEFINITELY not alone in this!

    Sincerely,
    Janet G.
    “The Migraine Girl”

  • Carol Lentz
    5 years ago

    Ever since I’ve been on Zomig (triptan), I’ve had as a side effect allodynia (or allodynia-like symptoms). It is definitely not the headache causing the bruised sensations over my entire body. I also get a sore throat. Interesting. I never knew there was a name for this syndrome.

  • Angie
    5 years ago

    I’ve had an issue with allodynia on the right side of my head for years but I did not have a name for what I was experiencing until a few months ago.

    I always explaine it as feeling like sore, tight muscles after a long workout and if you move the “muscles” or touch the area the pain is worse, including my hair in that area.

    I like the bruised explaintion. I’ve had issues with feeling like the same spot on my upper thigh was bruised and more recently on my arm but there were no bruises. The thigh pain has always been after a major migraine episode as was the arm. Allodynia? I will have to pay closer attention next time.

    We are all so blessed to have sites such as this one. They allow us to learn from one another’s experiences so we can all continue to put the pieces together of migraine. Thank you!

  • Nancy Stein
    5 years ago

    Okay, this is weird. TODAY, while researching the Cefaly device (you know, the newest cure-all) I realized that the horrible sensation that “painless” things caused me pain (like the blankets on the bed hurting my legs) was called “allodynia” (and this diagnosis makes it less likely that the Cefaly will work for me). And now, for the first time, I am reading an article about allodynia with migraine. Wild!

    And for the record, hair hurting is weird and very hard to explain, isn’t it?

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