Central pain syndrome is described as a neurological disorder that is caused by damage to the central nervous system. The central nervous system includes the brain, brainstem and the spinal cord. This condition can be triggered by various conditions such as stroke, tumors, brain trauma or epilepsy. Those who have central pain syndrome usually feel various types of pain sensations such as the following:
- Sharp pain
The symptoms tend to vary widely among individuals. It can occur right after trauma or other conditions or it might take months or even years to develop. It is important to note that there is no cure for this syndrome. In most cases, pain medication, antidepressants and other types of medications can provide relief. The condition can drastically affect the quality of life of any individual.
Causes of central pain syndrome
Central pain syndrome involves pain that stems from the brain and not from the peripheral nerves that are situated outside of the brain and spinal cord. Due to this, it is different from other pain conditions.
Remember that there is no harmful stimulus. An injury to the brain produces the perception of pain. Take note that this injury typically occurs in the thalamus which is a structure in the brain that processes the sensory signals to other parts of the brain. The usual conditions that can lead to central pain syndrome include:
- Brain hemorrhage
- Brain tumors
- Multiple sclerosis
- Spinal cord injury
- Parkinson’s disease
- Traumatic brain injury
- Surgical procedures involving the spine or brain
Symptoms of central pain syndrome
The main symptom of central pain syndrome is pain in the body that varies from one individual to another. The pain is typically described as aching, burning, prickling, freezing, stabbing, itching, tearing and shocking. The pain can range from moderate to severe in intensity. It can even be agonizing in some individuals. In severe cases, those with central pain syndrome can experience pain even when lightly touched by blankets, clothing or even the wind. A doctor should be consulted if you believe you have chronic pain. To learn to manage pain from medical conditions and injuries, enroll in a first aid and CPR course with a credible Canadian provider near you.
Diagnosing central pain syndrome
Central pain syndrome can be difficult to diagnose. The pain can be extensive and does not seem to the linked to any trauma or injury. Remember that there is no testing tool that can be used to identify central pain syndrome.
In most cases, the doctor will review the symptoms, conduct a physical exam and ask about the medical history of the individual. It is vital to inform the doctor regarding any conditions or injuries in the past or recently as well as medications being used.
Management of central pain syndrome
Central pain syndrome is hard to treat. Pain medication such as morphine is oftentimes used but not always successful. In some individuals, the pain can be managed by taking antidepressant or antiepileptic medications.
Generally, these medications will minimize the pain but will not make it go away entirely. Through trial and error, the ideal medication can be discovered or a combination of medications that works best for the individual.
The last resort is neurosurgery which includes deep brain stimulation. The procedure entails an electrode that is embedded in specific areas of the brain to transmit stimulation to the pain receptors.