Chronic Pain

Coping and lessening

Chronic pain occurs in almost 10 percent of people who had strokes resulting from clots (ischemic strokes).  Usually, this pain is felt on the side that is affected by the stroke and it can develop weeks or months after the stoke itself.

Risk factors for post-stroke pain include:
  • being a woman
  • the severity of stroke
  • alcohol intake
  • recent symptoms of depression
  • diabetes
  • vascular disease of blood vessels supplying the legs
This type of pain is called central post-stroke pain (CPSP) or thalamic pain. CPSP is constant and is caused by the brain misreading normal sensations as pain.  For this reason, over-the-counter pain medicines such as aspirin or Advil do not help.

The following treatments may help with the pain, however:
  • Antidepressants such as amitriptyline (Elavil), which address the constant pain, anti-seizure medications such as gabapentin (Neurontin) and carbamazepine (Tegretol)
  • Surgical treatments: deep brain stimulation or motor cortex stimulation
  • Seek treatment from a mental health provider who has experience providing care for patients with chronic pain
  • Try a non-traditional therapy, listed here.
  • Understanding Post-Stroke Pain
  • Wait -- the pain lessens for 20% of people with CPSP over a period of years.

See also:
  • U.S. Pain Foundation tries to connect, inform, educate, and empower those living with pain while advocating on behalf of the entire pain community.
  • Heroes of Healing is a forum-based website for caregivers and those in pain to come together to share personal stories of struggle, perseverance, and triumph.
  • The American Chronic Pain Association facilitates peer support and education for individuals with chronic pain and their families.
  • Pain Connection is a  not-for-profit human service agency that aims to improve the quality of life of those suffering from chronic pain. 
  • Central Pain Syndrome Foundation aims to increase understanding of Central Pain Syndrome, its symptoms, causes, and treatments and to help ensure quality medical care for those suffering from it.
  • When the Pain Never Goes Away