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Central pain syndrome

Central pain syndrome is a neurological condition caused by damage to the central nervous system.

Central pain syndrome is also called thalamic pain syndrome, Dejerine-Roussy syndrome, posterior thalamic syndrome or the central post- stroke syndrome.

The central nervous system includes the brain, brain stem and spinal cord.

The disorder occurs in people who have - or who have experienced - strokes, multiple sclerosis, limb amputations, brain injuries, or spinal cord injuries. Central pain syndrome may develop months or years after injury or damage to the CNS.

What are the symptoms of central pain syndrome?

Central pain syndrome is characterised by a mixture of pain sensations, the most prominent being a constant burning sensation. The steady burning sensation is sometimes increased by light touch. Pain also increases if the temperature changes, most often if it gets colder. A loss of sensation can occur in affected areas. This loss of sensation is most prominent on distant parts of the body such as the hands and feet. There may be brief, intolerable bursts of sharp pain on occasion.

How is central pain syndrome treated?

Pain medicines may provide some degree of relief for those affected by central pain syndrome. Antidepressants and anticonvulsants are often very helpful in treating central pain syndrome. Narcotic drugs, sometimes given via a pump, may be recommended, as may be neurosurgery such as deep brain stimulation. It’s also important to keep stress levels under control. Psychotherapy can play a beneficial role in learning to manage the pain.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on January 20, 2014

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