For those who have suffered a stroke, the lingering pain and discomfort are serious issues. It is perhaps the most challenging after-effect of this life-threatening situation.
Post-stroke pain is neuropathic pain that happens when the brain has suffered an injury. A stroke prevents blood from getting to the brain, leading to damage to brain tissues. This causes severe pain and other sensory abnormalities. This type of pain is categorized and termed after the part of the brain affected, whether it is the central or thalamus area (central post-stroke pain of thalamic pain)
But because this condition manifests much like other pain conditions, it is difficult to get a diagnosis. Worst still, due to the many factors that contribute to its development, the condition can somewhat be resistant to treatment options. For example, it is not uncommon to find that a person who has suffered even a minor stroke develops shoulder pain, bad headaches, and other forms of musculoskeletal pain.
People who suffer from this chronic pain will need to work with pain specialists to discover a combination of therapies and treatments that can help bring relief.
Causes and Symptoms of Post-Stroke Pain
Post-stroke pain sets in and manifests in very different ways. Patients describe the pain they experience in different ways. Some experience a searing or prickling pain, while others go through persistent aches. It may set in days, months, or years after the stroke. It affects different parts, including the face, arm, torso area and lower body.
Constant pain is a common symptom (however, many patients report a stabbing ache in between). Post-stroke pain is more likely to happen if the stroke has affected the right side of the brain.
The discomfort typically worsens with time and is sometimes even worse when the patient moves or the environmental temperature changes.
Treatment Options for Post-Stroke Pain
In treating post-stroke pain, long-term treatment plans are more sustainable. It is essential that the patient works with physicians to find different therapies and treatments. This is because the conventional treatment options available are not so effective, making treatment quite distressing and disappointing for patients.
Treatment options depend on many factors, including how severe the stroke was and the nature of the pain the patient is experiencing. Recommended medication includes tricyclic antidepressants, which help with the constant pain. The intermittent stabbing pains can be helped with anti-epileptic medication. Surgical treatment options can also be explored as they have better chances of providing long-term relief.
Chronic pain sufferers often experience depression and anxiety. This triggers a vicious cycle as depression also makes pain worse. For patients to experience long-term relief and get a better outlook, they may need to get into therapy.
At Lakeshore Pain and Spine Center, we understand how limiting and distressing living with chronic pain can be. This is why our specialists prioritize an empathetic approach in helping you find a treatment plan that works. Our goal is to ensure your pain reduces so that you can feel and function better.
Let us explore a variety of treatment options with you. Reach out to us here today.