Dysesthesia is the appearance of unpleasant, often painful sensations, Which are not objectively justified by a given stimulus. In this sense, it is linked to other similar alterations such as neuropathic pain and allodynia.
In this article we will describe what exactly is dysesthesia and what are its causesAs well as five of the most common types of dysesthesia: cutaneous, which is associated with burning sensations, scalp, occlusal (or phantom bite) and genital.
What is dysesthesia?
The term “dysesthesia”, which comes from the Greek and translates to “abnormal sensation”, is used to denote a perceptual phenomenon consisting of the appearance of sensations of pain, burning, tingling, itching or any other discomfort without the intervention of a causal stimulus, while other times it is altered perceptions of the actual stimuli.
According to this definition, dysesthesia would include, for example, sensations of pain when brushing hair and putting on or taking off clothes, as well as the continued perception of tingling in the toes or hands.
The most common is that episodes of dysesthesia occur in the legs and feetAlthough it is also common for these sensations to appear on the arms, face, or as a feeling of pressure around the torso, both chest and abdomen.
Abnormal perceptions can arise in a timely and concise manner, but this is not always the case: in some cases, dysesthesia is the continued presence of discomfort without an identifiable objective cause.
People who suffer from this symptom often report that it gets worse when they try to fall asleep, after exercise or exertion and as a result of changes in ambient temperature.
Causes of this alteration
The sensations classified as dysesthesia have a neurological origin. They are often due to damage to the spinal and spinal nerves caused by disorders of the nervous system. In this sense, many episodes of dysesthesia can be included under the general label of “neuropathic pain”.
Therefore, and although many people with this symptom intuitively believe that the damage is localized to the skin (or another part of the body where they experience pain), the truth is that the disorder is associated with the nerves.
Multiple sclerosis is a very common cause of dysesthesia, Which damages the myelin sheaths, interfering with the transmission of electrochemical impulses through the nervous system. This causes the brain to have difficulty interpreting the perceptions it receives from peripheral fibers and the conscious sensory experience to be abnormal.
Other factors associated with the onset of dysesthesia are diabetes mellitus, herpes, Guillain-Barré syndrome, Lyme disease, Strokes affecting the thalamus, abstinence from substances such as alcohol, consumption of certain drugs and chemotherapy treatments.
On the other hand, there are authors who maintain that dysesthesia has a psychogenic origin; from this point of view, this symptom would be classified as a psychosomatic disorder, and it has been linked to disorders such as schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. However, research confirms the presence of neurological damage in many cases.
Types of dysesthesia
The scientific literature has collected different types of dysesthesia which are particularly common or significant for their clinical interest. Let’s see what each of them consists of.
Dysesthesia is a very common type of this disorder, as most episodes are associated with skin sensations. As we have already said, these they include pain but also itching, stinging or burning.
2.dysesthesia with burning
It is common for people with dysesthesia to experience an intense burning sensation in different parts of the body, as if they were burning themselves. A special subtype is burning mouth syndrome, a form of oral dysesthesia which is characterized by pain similar to that of mouth ulcers.
3. On the scalp
Dysesthesia also commonly appears on the scalp. In these cases, patients report both pain and a burning sensation and other discomfort. It is technically a subtype of skin dysesthesia, although it has also been studied independently.
4.occlusal dysesthesia (phantom bite)
Occlusal dysesthesia, also known as a “phantom bite”Often occurs after dental surgery. It is characterized by an annoying sensation of straining the jaws in a manner similar to a bite held and often causes severe pain when ingesting food and fluids.
5. Genital dysesthesia
More cases of genital dysesthesia have been detected in men than in women. It is usually associated with a burning sensation; when the discomfort is located in the penis, it is referred to as penile dysesthesia, while if a burn occurs in the scrotum, the concept of “burning scrotum syndrome” is used.