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Stroke and Pain: What You Need to Know About Stroke-Induced Pain

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Updated July 31, 2008

Stroke and Pain: What You Need to Know About Stroke-Induced Pain

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Stroke and pain can come together as a result of a lacunar infarct (stroke) in an area of the brain called the thalamus. This important area serves as the relay station for sensory information from all over the body. Usually, such a lacunar stroke is specific to areas of the thalamus that receive information about pain, temperature, touch, vibration sense, and pressure from all over the body. What a stroke leads to pain due to damage in these areas, people are said to suffer from the Dejerine-Roussy syndrome.

Symptoms of Stroke-Induced Pain - The Dejerine-Roussy Syndrome

The symptoms of the Dejerine-Roussy syndrome include the following:
  • Unexplained pain coming from one side of the body
  • Abnormal sensation of pain to a normal stimulus, such as a gentle stroke over the skin
  • Tingling feelings from one side of the body
  • Feelings of excessive weight on one side of the body
  • Abnormal feelings of hot or cold on one side of the body

Sometimes the syndrome is accompanied by weakness on the face, arm, and/or leg on one side of the body, which begins shortly after the stroke. This weakness normally goes away over time, but the rest of the symptoms can be permanent.

The sensory symptoms of the Dejerine-Roussy syndrome can begin immediately after the stroke, or come on slowly over the subsequent weeks, or months.

Treatment of Dejerine-Roussy Syndrome

Available treatments for the Dejerine-Roussy syndrome include antidepressants, anticonvulsants and analgesic medications. In severe cases, people are given strong pain medicines such as morphine and methadone. Surgical options also exist; deep brain stimulation is used to decrease a person's perception of pain.

For more information about the treatments of Dejerine-Roussy syndrome, visit the Central Pain Syndrome Alliance website.

Source: J. P. Mohr, Dennis W. Choi, James C. Grotta, Bryce Weir, Phillip A. Wolf Stroke: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, and Management Churchill Livingstone; 4th edition (2004)

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