Sensitivity to Touch, Pressure, and Pain
Tactile and pain sensitivity is characteristic of an abnormal intolerance and response to touch, pressure, and pain sensations (nociceptive sensations). For sufferers of tactile hypersensitivity, light and gentle touch can range from mildly discomforting to debilitatingly painful. Onset of pain may be local or shooting when pressure is applied to a particular area of the body, or pain may be widespread with flare-ups (periods of increased sensitivity) where pain is experienced continuously and exacerbated buy external pressures. Pain sensation can include an increase sense of pain where mild pain is perceived as severe pain, and experiencing pain from things that should not cause pain at all (non-noxious stimuli). For me, there is not sensation left that is not accompanied by a pain response. All things equal pain, if not immediate, then prolonged exposure.
Signs of Tactical Sensitivity in Adults
- Experiencing sharp or burning pain after soft touch or gentle caress. (e.g. a tap on the shoulder or someone brushing up against you).
- Experiences pain when hugged, when cuddling up with a partner, or when clothes or shoes are not loose fitting and soft.
- Avoiding wearing undergarments (e.g. a bra) due to the experience of pain when wearing such items.
- Lack of sexual drive due to fear of pain or injury; in addition to neurological and psychological effects that reduce or eliminate libido.
- Avoiding areas or locations with crowds, standing in the corner or against walls, “out of the way” to avoid possible physical contact with others.
- When touched from behind (e.g. tap on the shoulder) results in physical or verbal fearful response (e.g. jumping, or shrieking due to involuntary pain responses).
- Experiencing pain when wearing hats, visors, putting hair up in a ponytail, or using barrettes or headbands.
- Experiencing discomfort or even reddening of the skin when wearing clothing that you feel are “scratchy” or “itchy” that others find comfortable and soft.
- Experiences a strong discomfort or even pain when caught in the rain, when sweating, in a pool, in a shower or tub, or experiences discomfort from other exposure to moisture. However, may wash hands frequently.
- Experiencing major injury pains (e.g. like cuts, tears, broken bones) in cases when only minor scrapes, bruises, or sprains are involved.
- Washing hands frequently do to sensation of sweat and dirt, or lotion hands frequently due to scratchiness or soreness experienced with dryness.
- Either extreme reaction to tickling, or tickling results in mild to severe pain.
- Fear of dentists and physical exams due to the anticipation of pain or discomfort.
- Pain when brushing teeth/gums, even though mouth is healthy, and pain when brushing hair.
- Experiencing pain when sitting on a hard surface like a wooden chair or any chair with little padding.
Signs of Tactile Sensitivity in Children
- Light and gentle touch results in fearful, anxious, or aggressive behavior.
- Does not like to be held, hugged, or cuddled.
- Distressed when told to take a shower or bath.
- Keeps their distance from other children at play, in lines, or on the bus in fear of unexpected touch.
- Jumps and cries when bumping into an object they did not see, or when tapped on the shoulder from behind.
- Cries or complains of pain when having their hair brushed.
- Are bothered by rough bed sheets, new clothing that may be rough, stiff, or they may describe as itchy, and may either adjust socks just so, or avoid wearing socks due to discomfort.
- Often touches everything new they can see, but avoid touching certain textures at all costs.
- Dislikes kissing or face being cleaned, and will wipe face off when kissed.
- Runs and cries/screams when rained on or when exposed to strong winds.
- Overreacts to minor injuries or bug bites.
- Avoids messy or wet play (e.g. water sports, playing with playdough, mud, finger painting, etc.)
- Avoids touching wet or dirty objects, or wants to wash hands frequently.
- Is excessively ticklish, or cries when tickled.
- Changes into softer looser clothing when coming home from school.
- Prefers to be unclothed around the house or refuses to wear pajamas at night.
- Cries or complains when it is time to trim fingernails or toenails.
- Avoids walking on concrete or grass without shoes, or walks on tiptoes only.
Ways to Alleviate or Reduce Symptoms
- If it feels swollen, apply cold or ice. If it feels tight, apply heat.
- In general, avoid caffeine, one limit it. Avoid refined sugar and artificial sugars entirely. Natural sugars like Stevia and that occur naturally in foods like fruit are OK.
- Take long hot baths, especially in the colder months.
- Always pair 1 part activity to 1 part rest. To avoid whole day of downtime, rotate activity and rest during the day. For example, walk for 15 minutes followed by sitting for 15 minutes, then walk again.
- Avoid eating one type of food in bulk. Too much of anything can cause a flare. Too much potassium can increase muscle pain (stiffness, spasm, sharp), too much calcium can result in increased bone and joint pain (sharp), too much quercetin can result in increased blood vessel pain (burning, needle pricks).
- Drink plenty of water. Always have water on hand. It sounds simple, but it’s critical. Dehydration can increase tension and pain.
- Start a gentle stretching and exercise regimen to keep you loose and to provide you with a good supply of endorphins (the body’s natural pain killers) daily. Walking, standing, lifting weights, aerobic – just move. If you are maintaining your weight, energy levels, and strength – you’re doing it right.
- Adjust your electrolyte intake (e.g. sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium), as too much or to little can increase muscle tightness and pain. READ NUTRITION LABELS. If it doesn’t have a label (whole foods), Google it.
- Get a sleep tracker and focus on getting as much deep sleep as possible. Consider “light sleep” not sleeping. (e.g. Up Move, Fitbit). Shoot for at least 8 hours of deep sleep. Keep trying new things until you get there.
- Challenge yourself at least once a day socially, creatively, or critically. If you stop using these skills, you WILL lose them and it’s not like riding a bike. Talk to a stranger, friend, family member, even texting helps. Get big on crafts. Build things, fix things, refurbish things. Challenge your brain and creativity.
- Have faith. Whether its faith in yourself, faith in a higher power, or faith in a little bit fo both, you need to have faith in something.
- Take it one day at a time. Plan for the future, but be ready to adapt to change. Learn from past mistakes. Make to-do lists daily and do things as you feel up to doing them, not necessarily in order. Keep a journal of exercise changes, diet changes, etc. to help identify causes for increased pain and fatigue.
- If you feel drunk or high, you’re exhausted and should rest. Accidental injury is VERY high when you are like this.
- If it hurts a little, do it. If it hurts a lot, find another way to do it. Be creative, think outside of the box.
- CSS is all about what not to do, and less about what you can do. It’s all about rest, relaxation, stress reduction, pain reduction. Basically, the less you do the better you will feel.
- Less can mean more if you find shortcuts. Do routine things less. Do the bare minimum. Do things when they need to be done, not when most people do them. For example, vacuum half the house one day, the rest rest another day. Do house chores one day, go grocery shopping the next. Make lists of things you need to do and do similar things at the same time instead of rapidly switching activities (which takes more energy). Go to the store when you need a few things, not one. Wash your hair when you need to, not when you’re use to. Wash clothes when you’re out of clothes or nearing it. Order stuff online instead of running around town looking for them.
- Don’t accept a new symptom as permanent. Try to find a way to resolve them. New symptoms pop up as CSS evolves, and you don’t want to have all of those symptoms build up on you, it will get overwhelming. At least half of the symptoms you experience will be successfully treatable.
- You can do just about anything now as you could before CSS. It’s just gong to take you longer and you’re not going to be able to do it that same way. Don’t be hard on yourself, just do your best. Be patient and kind to yourself, stressing out will only make the pain and fatigue worse. Have hope, you’ve got this.
- Until you have a handle of your do’s and don’ts, keep your day to day very similar, including what you eat and drink. That way if something sets off a flare, you’ll know exactly what it is. Sometimes things can lead to new symptoms right away, and some over time. The more controlled your life is, the better you’ll be able to identify and eliminate things that make you worse.
- Ask your doctor about starting on a muscle relaxer at bedtime or during the day like Flexeril, Zanaflex or Skelaxin.
Neck Pain and Tension Headaches
- Avoid wearing large earrings or necklaces.
- While watching TV or at the movies make sure you have proper neck, spinal, and head support.
- If you are on a computer for more than an hour a day, allow your neck a rest and a good stretch every now and again, especially if you look down at the keys.
- Position your computer monitor so you look directly at it, not down at it.
- Position your computer monitor so your look up at it, but only if you have proper neck support.
- Use a contour pillow at night to gently stretch your neck throughout the night.
- If reading a book, hold the book or set it at eye level.
- See a Physical Therapist, Orthopedic Specialist, or Chiropractor.
- Engage stretching exercises and hour after waking up every morning when you wake up. Use a warm heating pad or compress to relax the muscles first, or take a log hot shower or bath, if stretching is too painful.
- Be mindful when picking up objects or exercising as to not strain your neck.
- If you notice your neck muscles tense up frequently, be mindful and catch yourself. When you do, take a deep breath in, and as you breathe out, relax your neck muscles.
Abdominal Cramping & Endometriosis
- Avoid foods that cause bloating or excess gas, which vary from person to person. These foods can include fruits or fruit juices, milk (e.g. cow, goat, soy, and even almond), spicy foods, etc.
If cramping is a result of chronic constipation:
- Ask your doctor about trying Zelnorm, stool softeners, or non-stimulant laxatives and see what works best for you.
- Eat foods high in fiber or take a daily fiber supplement.
- Try to “go” after your daily workout, or try implementing yoga postures into your routine that activate these areas.
Women who suffer from tactile sensitivity may experience mild to crippling pain during menstrual periods. This pain may also be a sign of Endometriosis, which is a common health problem in women. It gets its name from the word endometrium, the tissue that lines the uterus (womb). In women with this problem, tissue that looks and acts like the lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus in other areas. These areas can be called growths, tumors, implants, lesions, or nodules.
- Talk to you doctor about using Depo-Provera as a form of treatment. It works wonders for menstruation pain in general.
Hand & Finger Pain
- Whether your pain is muscular, joint, or nerve based, try acupressure by simply applying pressure to the tips of your fingers, either just by pressing pad to pad, or buy lightly pressing the pads of the fingers gently with one of your fingernails.
- Limit typing on computers and take more breaks from typing.
- Limit texting on your cell phone.
- Try a paraffin wax bath for your hands once or twice a day.
- Avoid writing when you can, and opt for typing.
- Avoid holding objects with your hands that weight more than 5 pounds. If you must, try wearing gloves to reduce pressure. The best type of gloves to wear are those with leather grips (e.g. Isotoners).
- Purchase an ergonomic computer keyboard and mouse.
Low Back/Buttocks Muscle Pain & Spasms
- Avoid sitting in chairs without padding.
- Purchase a portable padded foam seat to take with you (e.g. a Tempur-Pedic wheelchair cushion).
- Switch your office chair out for something more plush, and/or reclines or has an ottoman.
- Limit the time you spend in the car.
- Purchase a lumbar cushion to support your back, which can help alleviate lower pains.
- Avoid bending or picking up heavy objects. If you need to bend, bend at the knees, keep both feet firmly planted, and bend in a downward motion, not outward.
Hip, Knee, Ankle, and Foot Pain & Spasms
- Limit how long you stand or take turns standing and sitting.
- Limit how long you are walking, or consider a mobility assisting device (e.g. a shopping cart, walker, cane, or wheelchair).
- For foot pain, try out a few types of orthodics at your local store (e.g. drug store, Walmart, etc.) or have your doctor refer you to a podiatrist to custom make a pair of orthodics. Orthodics may be uncomfortable at first, but should not be painful.
- Wear a pair of shoes that provide support with or with orthodics (e.g. Sketchers or Earth Spirit).
- Avoid high impact exercises like jogging or running.
- Keep a folding cane within reach for when pain suddenly spikes in your hips, legs or feet.
- Lose weight, the more you weigh, the more sensitive you will become. Every 5 pounds can be a major lifestyle change. I lost 65 pounds in 8 months through light impact workouts (pilates, yoga, recumbent biking, freestyle aerobic dance) and an organic vegetarian diet.
- See a physical therapist if you are primarily sedentary to prevent falls, as the muscles that hold you up will become weak over time.
- Wear flat shoes to avoid sprains.
- Avoid walking on uneven ground or sidewalks.
- Avoid sitting on anything uncomfortable for an extended period of time.
Teeth and Jaw
- Purchase a mouthguard if you are prone to grinding your teeth at night. You can custom make your own buy purchasing a mouthguard at any drugstore, sporting goods store, or Walmart or Kmart. You can also have your dentist custom make a a mouthguard for you. If your gums are very sensitive, the smaller the mouthguard the better. Trim and fit to your required specifications.
- Ask your dentist about adding composite to teeth that have been ground down to reduce sensitivity.
- Avoid hard candies and foods. Also, avoid sugary drinks and foods or brush immediately after consuming them.
- Try Sensodine toothpaste.
- Ask your physical therapist about Myofascial Release.
- Get into the habit of resting your tongue on the top of your mouth day and night.
- Use a heating pad (electric or water) in the morning and right before bed.
- Massage the areas around your cheeks and/or puff your cheeks full of air and hold for 30 seconds. This will help stretch and relax these muscles.
- See a TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) specialist if you experience a great deal of jaw pain and cracking.