We think of pain as a symptom, but there are cases where the nervous system develops feedback loops and pain becomes a terrifying disease in itself. Starting with the story of a girl whose sprained wrist turned into a nightmare, Dr Elliot Krane talks about the complex mystery of chronic pain, and reviews the facts we’re just learning, about how it works and how to treat it.
Dr Krane, provides the clearest explanation of Allodynia that I have ever found. Allodynia is a condition, in which chronic pain persists , long after its acute cause has disappeared, and the patient is, in all other ways, fully recovered.
Allodynia makes even the lightest of physical contact, like the movement of clothing against the skin, feel like the intense burning of a blow-torch. The pain of Allodynia is generated by glial cells in the spinal cord. The glial cells surround neurons and provide support for, and insulation between them. Glial cells are the most abundant cell types in the central nervous system. Types of glial cells include oligodendrocytes, astrocytes, ependymal cells, Schwann cells, microglia, and satellite cells. The glial cells spread the pain throughout the entire body, continuously, for as long as, and whenever, the patient is conscious, or more simply, whenever the patient is awake.
Sadly, Allodynia is not widely recognized by the medical profession around the world, and even when it is acknowledged, treatment is often ineffective, if it is offered at all.
The Health-Care Survivor’s Comment
Allodynia has been a part of my own life, for several years, since I developed leg-ulcers. For me it is further complicated by it’s interaction with my pre-existing condition of Cerebral Palsy, which also has the ability to cause acute, as well as chronic pain, and to spread it throughout the body.
Whenever anyone asks me to describe the pain of Allodynia, I describe the sensation as, “…the feeling of drowning in burning oil — a sensation that never stops, and fills every waking second”.