Allodynia: Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Outlook

It is an unusual symptom that can be the result of various nerve-related conditions.

When you experience it, you feel pain from stimuli that do not normally cause pain. For example, lightly touching the skin or brushing the hair can be painful.

To relieve allodynia, your doctor will try to treat the underlying cause.

What are the symptoms of allodynia?

The main symptom of allodynia is pain caused by stimuli that usually do not cause pain. In some cases, hot or cold temperatures may be painful.

You may feel pain in response to a brushing sensation or other movement along your skin or hair.

Depending on the underlying cause of your allodynia, you may experience other symptoms as well.

For example, if it is caused by fibromyalgia , you could also experience:

  • Anxiety.
  • Depression .
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Fatigue.

If it’s related to migraines , you might also experience:

  • Severe headaches
  • Increased sensitivity to light or sounds.
  • Changes in your vision
  • Nausea.


Some underlying conditions can cause allodynia. It is most commonly related to fibromyalgia and migraines. The herpetic neuralgia or peripheral neuropathy can cause encephalitis.


Fibromyalgia is a disorder in which you experience muscle and joint pain throughout your body. But it is not related to an injury or a condition such as arthritis.

Instead, it seems to be related to the way your brain processes your body’s pain signals.

It is still something of a medical mystery. Scientists don’t fully understand its roots, but it tends to run in families. Certain viruses, stress, or trauma can also trigger fibromyalgia.


Migraine is a type of headache that causes severe pain. Changes in nerve signals and chemical activity in your brain trigger this type of headache. In some cases, these changes can cause allodynia.

Peripheral neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy occurs when the nerves that connect your body to the spinal cord and brain are damaged or destroyed. It can be the result of several serious medical conditions. For example, it is a possible complication of diabetes.

Neuralgia postherpética

Postherpetic neuralgia is the most common complication of shingles. This is a disease caused by the varicella zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox.

It can damage your nerves and lead to postherpetic neuralgia. Increased sensitivity to touch is a potential symptom of postherpetic neuralgia.

What are the risk factors for allodynia?

If you have a parent who has fibromyalgia, you are at a higher risk of developing it. Experiencing migraines, developing peripheral neuropathy, or getting chickenpox or also increases the risk of developing allodynia.

How is it diagnosed?

If you notice that your skin has become more sensitive to the touch than normal, you can begin to diagnose yourself. You can do this by testing your nervous sensitivity.

For example, try brushing a dry cotton ball over your skin. Then apply a hot or cold compress to your skin. If you experience painful tingling in response to any of these stimuli, you may have allodynia. Make an appointment with your doctor for a formal diagnosis.

Your doctor can perform a variety of tests to assess your nerve sensitivity. They will also ask about your medical history and other symptoms you may have.

This can help them begin to identify the cause of your allodynia. Be sure to answer their questions as honestly and completely as possible.

Tell them about any pain in your limbs, headaches, poor wound healing, or other changes you have noticed.

If they suspect you may have diabetes, your doctor will likely order blood tests to measure the level of glucose in your bloodstream.

They may also order blood tests to check for other possible causes of your symptoms, such as thyroid disease or infection.

How is allodynia treated?

Depending on the underlying cause of your allodynia, your doctor may recommend medications, lifestyle changes, or other treatments.

For example, your doctor may prescribe medications such as lidocaine (Xylocaine) or pregabalin (Lyrica) to help relieve your pain.

They may also recommend taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, such as naproxen (Alleve).

In some cases, your doctor may recommend treatment with electrical stimulation, hypnotherapy, or other complementary approaches.

It is also important for your doctor to address the underlying condition that is causing your allodynia.

For example, successful diabetes treatment can help improve diabetic neuropathy. This can help reduce the risk of allodynia.

Changes in lifestyle

Identifying the triggers that make your allodynia worse can help you manage your condition.

If you experience migraines, certain foods, drinks, or environments can trigger your symptoms. Consider using a journal to track your lifestyle habits and symptoms.

Once you’ve identified your triggers, take steps to limit your exposure to them.

Managing stress is also important if you live with migraines or fibromyalgia. Stress can cause symptoms in both conditions. Practicing meditation or other relaxation techniques can help you reduce your stress levels.

Wearing clothing made from lightweight, sleeveless fabrics can also help, if your allodynia is triggered by the touch of clothing.

Social and emotional support

If treatment doesn’t relieve your pain, see your doctor for mental health advice. These services can help you learn to adjust to your changing physical health.

For example, cognitive behavior therapy can help you change the way you think and react to difficult situations.

It may also be helpful to seek the advice of other people with allodynia. For example, look for support groups in your community or online.

In addition to sharing strategies for managing your symptoms, it may be helpful to connect with other people who understand your pain.

What is the perspective?

Your outlook will depend on the underlying cause of your allodynia. Ask your doctor for more information about your diagnosis, treatment options, and long-term outlook.