Hyperesthesia: What It Is, Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

If you have this condition, your body overreacts to painful stimuli, making you feel increased pain. You can develop hyperalgesia if you use opioid drugs or injure a body part. Topical medications seem to help with certain types of allodynia, such as postherpetic neuralgia. Typical over the counter topical medications include lidocaine, menthol, and capsaicin.

  1. Thus, on physical exam, allodynia presents as a lowering of the pain threshold, while hyperalgesia presents as a heightening of response.
  2. It is important to use opioid pain medications only when necessary, at the lowest effective dose, and for as short a period of time as possible.
  3. The signals have to be strong enough for you to notice and process, but not so strong that they overwhelm your brain’s processing abilities.
  4. Both are seen in various peripheral neuropathies and central pain disorders, and affect 15-50% of patients with neuropathic pain.
  5. For example, increased sensitivity to touch is called tactile sensitivity, and increased sensitivity to sound is called auditory sensitivity.
  6. Research shows that switching to methadone (Dolophine) or buprenorphine can be particularly effective for people with OIH.

Hyperalgesia is a symptom where you feel pain in situations where feeling it is normal, but the pain is much more severe. This can happen commonly with burns and many other injuries and conditions. It’s often treatable, with many possible treatment methods and approaches.

What Is Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome?

It is important for patients on opioid pain medications to discuss the possibility of opioid-induced hyperalgesia with their doctor, and not to make sudden changes in their regimen without medical guidance. Sodium channel blockers, calcium channel antagonists, and anticonvulsants act to increase firing thresholds and are generally effective in treating allodynia and neuropathic pain. However, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have yielded mixed to disappointing results, and are not a recommendation for the treatment of allodynia.

How can we treat opioid-induced hyperalgesia?

A person can retreat to a room with little stimulation to avoid additional triggers. They will also perform a neurological examination to assess a person’s neurological function. Electromyography involves placing electrodes on the skin or in muscle fibers to measure muscle activation. EMGs are useful for distinguishing muscular versus neuronal weakness on efferent motor neurons but do not measure sensory neuron deficits. EMG is an option if there is a concern for motor neuron degeneration.


Under ordinary circumstances, clothes touching your skin shouldn’t cause pain. Allodynia causes your nervous system to misinterpret signals, mistaking touch signals for pain signals. If you think you or a loved one may be experiencing OIH, you should discuss this with you doctor, and work with them to taper your dose and find alternatives to manage your pain safely. “Hyper” comes from the Greek word for “over,” and “algesia” from “algos” meaning “pain.” “Hyperalgesia” is an increased sensation of pain. At first glance, it seems paradoxical that opioids, medications which are so good at relieving pain, can in some cases actually increase it. This can be confusing, but a closer look at how these medications work can help us understand the dramatic positive and negative effects that they have on the body.

The signals have to be strong enough for you to notice and process, but not so strong that they overwhelm your brain’s processing abilities. It tries to reserve more intense signaling only for when alcohol as a seizure trigger absolutely necessary (like the pain of touching something hot enough to burn you). NMDA receptor antagonists help to block the overly sensitized pain receptors in people with hyperalgesia.

In summary, many types of peripheral nerve fibers communicate with and travel via different central nervous system pathways. They further categorize into alpha fibers, which are mostly responsible for proprioception, beta fibers, how to smoke moon rocks which transmit light touch, and delta fibers, which carry both pain and temperature sensations. There are also unmyelinated type C nerve fibers, which carry sensations of aching pain, as well as temperature and pruritus.

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