Post Stroke Pain – Causes, Treatments, and Tips

Post Stroke Pain – Causes, Treatments, and Tips

What Causes Post Stroke Pain?

There are 2 types of post stroke pain: localized and central pain.

Localized pain is usually felt in one specific area, like the head or joints. This type of pain can be treated with heat packs and usually goes away in time.

Central post-stroke pain (CPSP) is a very severe type of pain that most people can’t fully comprehend without experiencing it firsthand.

CPSP is a neurological disorder that develops when the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) is damaged, resulting in constant, moderate to severe pain. Post stroke pain can also occur due to spasticity, which is muscle tightness or stiffness that can cause painful spasms in your affected muscles.

When Does Post Stroke Pain Happen?

Half of stroke survivors suffer from post stroke pain, and one in ten suffer from chronic pain. This pain can happen immediately, or develop later into your stroke recovery.

In fact, sometimes post stroke pain occurs weeks or even months after stroke, which is why so many doctors get it wrong.

If you feel like you’ve been misdiagnosed, be sure to tell your doctor that you think your pain is the result of your stroke and ask them to discuss your options with you. Here’s some background on how to treat this post stroke side effect:

How Can You Treat Post Stroke Pain?

What works well for some may not work as well for others, so experiment with your options until you find the best relief.

HEAT

Heat packs are an easy, convenient way to treat localized pain. However, it’s not as effective when the pain is central.

MEDICATION

You can talk with your doctor to see if there are any medications available to help reduce your pain.

Please note that some patients see more improvement from physical therapy than medication.

PHYSICAL THERAPY

Many patients find that physical therapy and exercise help relieve their pain. However, sometimes the pain itself serves as a barrier to this treatment option, leading to depression and anxiety. Try not to let this setback affect your motivation to get better.

STAY ACTIVE

Getting some movement into your day can help you avoid painful muscle spasms and prevent learned nonuse.

ELECTRICAL NERVE STIMULATION

Electrical nerve stimulation, like TENS therapy, can also be used to treat post stroke pain.

During TENS therapy, the electricity simulates the nerves in the painful area and this stimulation sends signals to the brain to block the pain. Another theory is that this type of therapy helps your body produce endorphins, your body’s natural painkillers.

TREAT SPASTICITY

When spasticity is the main culprit of post stroke pain, you can treat spasticity to treat the pain.

Some temporary treatment options include locally administered or orally taken drugs.

Permanent treatment options include using the power of neuroplasticity to regain function of the affected muscles which will ultimately lead to less pain.

ALLEVIATE DEPRESSION

Post stroke depression is a common side effect of chronic pain. If you feel like you’re depressed, then talk with your doctor or caregiver about your treatments options. Sometimes social support on its own is enough to help.

Other times probiotics can do the trick.

But when everything else fails to work, you still have one more option… Humor.

How Does Your Attitude Affect the Outcome?

We talked about Bree Hogan once before – and we’re bringing her up again because her story is relevant and inspirational.

Bree lives with a life-threatening autoimmune condition known as Guillian-Barre Syndrome where she lives in chronic pain 24 hours a day – along with many, many other symptoms.

Yet, if you check out her blog, you’ll notice that she has the most amazing attitude ever. How can someone in constant pain manage to be so happy? To put it shortly: Humor.

Bree has a lively sense of humor about everything that happens to her, and it helps her cope with the pain.

Humor is something that the happiest survivors have in common, with Bree and Marcelle Green being two excellent examples.

There’s something therapeutic about making light of a heavy situation, and it can help you be a happier person.

And you need to be happy to achieve your highest recovery.