Silhouette of a persons head with sharp pointing lines moving towards the back of their neck and the top of their head.

The Pain of Allodynia

I’ve had migraine for about nine years now, and there have been lots of odd symptoms that I’ve experienced along the way. One of the more annoying ones is allodynia. The best way to describe allodynia is hypersensitivity in your body. Some people can get this on your extremities, but I get this from my shoulders up.

Allodynia in my neck and scalp

My neck is painfully sensitive, especially if I wear close-fitting garments like a shirt and tie. I, unfortunately, have to wear a shirt and tie to work. There are ways to sort of diminish the pain by wearing my shirt open and my tie a bit loose. It's not ideal, but it works. The other area that gets affected is my scalp. My hair hurts is how I usually describe the sensation. I've always worn my hair short, but now with this ultra-sensitivity, I keep it really short. It works for me, but it wouldn't work out too well for my female counterparts!

The pain worsens other symptoms

It is so painful at times that it makes other symptoms feel even more amplified. Fatigue across my neck and shoulders is worse with allodynia. I suffer from insomnia, and the scalp sensitivity makes it worse. It hurts to put my head on the pillow. I can feel exhausted, but the one-two punch of allodynia and insomnia feed off of each other. 

Sleep apnea and allodynia

To make matters more difficult I have sleep apnea and use a CPAP machine to sleep. That just adds one more layer of unwanted stimuli. I try to stay as still as I can because moving hurts. It's like needles piercing my skull. I feel every hair! It sounds crazy, but this is so hard to describe.

Showering is painful

Showering is also a painful event. I feel bad for anyone who has this and has long hair. When my hair is a bit longer, I will wash it in sections as quickly as possible to avoid any additional contact with my head. The water hurts much less than if my hands touch my hair. Perhaps it’s the hot water that I find soothing.

The benefits of wearing a hat

Medications don't really have any effect that I've noticed regarding allodynia. I wear a hat frequently to control the pain. The closeness of the material is somehow comforting to me after I get past the initial discomfort of actually putting the hat on! Another benefit of wearing a hat is that it shields my eyes from overhead lights and the sun. Allodynia also amps up my photophobia, so wearing a hat is a necessary evil most days.

My experience with allodynia and migraine

I know everybody has different symptoms that accompany their migraine, but I thought I would take a moment and share one of mine. There is quite a bit of information on allodynia out there, so I urge you to look it up. You may even find yourself having a conversation with your doctor at your next visit!

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