Central Poststroke Pain

WHAT IS IT AND HOW IS IT TREATED?

woman with central post stroke pain

If you or a loved one have suffered a stroke and are still experiencing constant or intermittent pain following a stroke, you may have Central Poststroke Pain (CPSP). This condition (sometimes referred to as Post Stroke Syndrome) can be yet another painful after-effect of a stroke. Patients already living with post-stroke deficits or even those on the road to recovery are right to ask, “Why am I still in so much pain?”

 

In Central Stroke Syndrome, damaged portions of the brain or spinal cord receive more signals than they can handle, causing neighboring nerves to start firing independently. In extreme cases, the brain’s sensory center (the thalamus) will be unable to cope with the signals and will shut down entirely. At this point, the entire nervous system functions as one triggered nerve ending and resulting in the indescribable pain experienced by the sufferer.

Symptoms

The symptoms of Central Stroke Pain are intense episodes of pain, often triggered by nothing more than a touch. Patients often describe this pain as burning, scalding, freezing, or stabbing. On occasion, these episodes result in debilitating, full-body pain. Sufferers often live their life in fear that their movements or a touch from a friend or family member will cause unbearable pain. The pain is more often than not associated with abnormalities of sensation, particularly of thermal sensation, in the painful body area. They may also complain of pins and needles sensations, pressure-like sensations, or “creepy-crawly” sensations.

Treatment

There are several courses of treatment that may help reduce the symptoms of Central Poststroke Pain (CPSP), including:

  • Pain relievers (analgesic or narcotics)
  • Anti-convulsant medications
  • Deep brain or motor cortex stimulation

 

Finding the right treatment plan takes time and your neurosurgeon will work with you to find the best course to help relieve your pain.

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