Central Pain Syndrome Post-Stroke

If after your stroke, you’ve endured unimaginable, excruciating pain. And it just won’t go away, you may be suffering from central pain syndrome (CPS). The pain is a mixture of sensations; hot and cold, burning, tingling, numbness, sharp stabbing, and underlying aching pain.

As with other stroke challenges, CPS may affect normal living. Besides constant pain, you may be worried that too much movement or a change in the weather will explode into a full-blown pain episode. The pain and the worry can be your constant, day to day experience.

The Cause

Central Pain Syndrome is caused by damage that disturbs signals along the pain-transmission pathway, from the sensory cortex to the thalamus. Sometimes just a light touch may cause an intense episode. Others don’t feel sensation in a limb when touched but feel extreme, unrelenting pain.


Treatments for central pain syndrome have varying degrees of success. You may need:

  • Treatment that is progressive, starting with common analgesic drugs like ibuprofen, then moving to tricyclic anti-depressants or anti-convulsants. Depending on how effective these methods are, treatment may progress to increasingly strong analgesics and possibly narcotics. Finding the right medication regimen takes time.
  • Neurosurgery such as deep brain stimulation in which an electrode is implanted and sends stimulation to the pain receptors.
  • Psychological care. Your psyche is under assault as you navigate through the pain.

Finding the right doctor is crucial. It’s best to have one who is board certified in neurology, anesthesiology or physical medicine and rehabilitation.