Central Pain Syndrome


Central Pain Syndrome is defined as a neurological condition specifically caused by damage to the central nervous system, which includes the brain, brainstem and spinal cord. In other words, it is a type of pain that occurs due to the injuries of the brain or the spinal cord.

This condition may affect a large portion of the body or may be restricted to specific areas, such as hands or feet. The extent of pain usually depends on the cause of the CNS injury or damage.

It is also referred to as the Thalamic Pain Syndrome, Dejerine-Roussy Syndrome, Posterior Thalamic Syndrome or the Central Post-Stroke Syndrome.

Key Symptoms

Central Pain Syndrome is typically characterized by a steady pain, described as a burning, aching or cutting sensation. It represents a mixture of pain sensations, the most prominent being constant burning. These are often mingled with sensations of cold, ‘pins and needle’ tingling and the like.

The other key symptoms include-

• Intolerable bursts of sharp pain

• Loss of touch

• Pain aggravated by touch, movement, emotions

• Lack of response to pain relief medications

The burning and loss of touch sensations are usually most severe in the distant part of the body, such as feet or hands. Central Pain Syndrome usually begins shortly after the injury or damage that caused it.

Causes of Central Pain Syndrome

Based on the causative factors, the Central Pain Syndrome can be divided into two categories, namely pain related to prior spinal cord injury and pain related to prior brain injury.

Spinal cord-related pain occurs primarily due to traumatic injury, motor vehicle accidents, complications of surgery, tumors, congenital disorders and inflammatory conditions involving the spinal cord.

On the other hand, brain-related central pain usually follows a stroke, although tumors and infections may be the causative factors.

Here is a complete list of the probable causes of Central Pain Syndrome:

• Brain trauma

• CNS trauma

• Strokes

• Multiple Sclerosis

• Spinal cord trauma

• Parkinson’s disease

• Limb amputations

Treatment Options

Pain medications often provide negligible relief for those inflicted by the Central Pain Syndrome. Here we give a brief list of what kinds of medicines and measures are generally recommended for Central Pain Syndrome:

• Tricyclic antidepressants such as Nortriptyline, Amitriptyline

• Anticonvulsants, such as neurontin (Gabapentin)

• Analgesics

• Electrical stimulation

Stress reduction is also a major priority in the treatment plan for this disorder. Doctors recommend that people with the condition be sedated and the nervous system be kept quiet and as stress-free as possible.

Central Pain Syndrome is not a fatal disorder, but the syndrome definitely causes disabling chronic pain and suffering in its patients.