What is Central Pain Syndrome?
Central pain syndrome is a neurological condition caused by damage to or
dysfunction of the central nervous system (CNS), which includes the brain,
brainstem, and spinal cord. This syndrome can be caused by stroke, multiple
sclerosis, tumors, epilepsy, brain or spinal cord trauma, or Parkinson's
disease. The character of the pain associated with this syndrome differs widely
among individuals partly because of the variety of potential causes. Central
pain syndrome may affect a large portion of the body or may be more restricted
to specific areas, such as hands or feet. The extent of pain is usually related
to the cause of the CNS injury or damage. Pain is typically constant, may be
moderate to severe in intensity, and is often made worse by touch, movement,
emotions, and temperature changes, usually cold temperatures. Individuals
experience one or more types of pain sensations, the most prominent being
burning. Mingled with the burning may be sensations of "pins and needles;"
pressing, lacerating, or aching pain; and brief, intolerable bursts of sharp
pain similar to the pain caused by a dental probe on an exposed nerve.
Individuals may have numbness in the areas affected by the pain. The burning and
loss of touch sensations are usually most severe on the distant parts of the
body, such as the feet or hands. Central pain syndrome often begins shortly
after the causative injury or damage, but may be delayed by months or even
years, especially if it is related to post-stroke pain.
Is there any treatment?
Pain medications often provide some reduction of pain, but not complete
relief of pain, for those affected by central pain syndrome. Tricyclic
antidepressants such as nortriptyline or anticonvulsants such as neurontin (gabapentin)
can be useful. Lowering stress levels appears to reduce pain.
What is the prognosis?
Central pain syndrome is not a fatal disorder, but the syndrome causes disabling chronic pain and suffering among the majority
of individuals who have it.
What research is being done?
The NINDS vigorously pursues a research program seeking new treatments for
chronic pain and nervous system damage. The goals of this research are to
develop ways to more effectively treat and potentially reverse debilitating
conditions such as central pain syndrome.
American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA)
P.O. Box 850
Rocklin, CA 95677-0850
Tel: 916.632.0922 800.533.3231
American Pain Foundation
201 North Charles Street, Suite 710
Baltimore, MD 21201-4111
Source: National Institutes of Health; National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 1/13/2011...#6012