Change A Habit
Specialized psychotherapy services for people suffering with chronic health care issues.
with Siobhan O'Connor
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By Dr. Peter Abaci
Our sense of touch is one of our most basic and fundamental aspects of the human experience. We use our ability to feel as an integral tool to discriminate and better understand our environment, almost without thinking about it, because we do it all day long. Likewise, being touched by others is a critical part of human communication, whether it is through a handshake, a hug, or a pat on the back. Human contact can be considered a key component of positive communication, and it can boost a sense of general well-being.
Unfortunately, living with chronic pain can interfere with your ability to touch, feel, hold, or be held by others. One of the most challenging examples of this occurs when we develop extreme sensitivities to touch from things that aren’t usually painful. The medical term for this is allodynia and it means that something is painful from a non-painful stimulus. Imagine lightly brushing the back of your hand with a cotton ball. That should not hurt in the least, but now suppose doing so is all of a sudden associated with the feeling of intense pain in the hand. That would be an example of allodynia. Having extreme sensitivities to touch can have a dramatic effect on a person’s life as it often leads to activity avoidance as a coping tool to try to prevent pain. As a result, a person may completely avoid using an affected body part, like a hand in our example, or not want to even leave the house out of fear that being around others may risk contact with the sensitive body part.Read More
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