By Alicia Warren
Those of us with fibromyalgia (FM) experience several kinds of chronic pain, usually all at the same time. Only few ways to define and categorize our pain.
Here are some categories based on my own experience. Knowing the medical terms will help you communicate better with doctors and other healthcare providers, while my categories will help you understand your illness and you know you’re not alone.
PARESTHESIA & FIBROMYALGIA
Paresthesia are odd nerve sensations that can feel like crawling, tingling, burning, itching or numbness. Sometimes, these sensations can be painful. Paresthsias are also associated with peripheral neuropathy, chemotherapy drugs, multiple sclerosis and migraines.
Many common FM treatments can help alleviate paresthesia-related pain, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Some people also hae good luck with vitamin B12, capasaicin cream, massage and acupuncture.
HYPERALGESIA & FIBROMYALGIA
“Hyper” means excess and “Alegesia” means pain. Hyperalgesia is the medical term for pain amplification in FM. Our brains appear to take normal pain signals and “turn up the volume” making them more severe than they would normally be.
Mos of the drugs used for managing FM pain are aimed, at least in part, at reducing hyperalgesia.
ALLODYNIA & FIBROMYALGIA
A symptom that perplexes a lot of us, especially when it’s new, is allodynia. That’s what it’s called when your skin hurts to the touch, and when mild pressure from clothing or gentle massage causes pain. A lot people describe allodynia as similar to a bad sunburn.
Allodynia is a fairly rare type of pain – other than FM. It’s only associated with a handful of conditions, including neuropathy, postherpectic neuralgia (shingles) and migraine. Allodynia is believed to be a hypersensitive reaction that may result from the central sensitization associated with FM. The pain signals originate with specialized nerves, called nociceptors, that sense information about things like tempreture and painful stimuli right from the skin.