Central Pain Syndrome


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Central Pain Syndrome (CPS)
Clinical Names


The Stroke Network
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Abingdon,  MD 21009




Central Pain Syndrome (CPS) refers to pain that originates in the brain and not in the nerves, which lie outside of the brain.  Pain is ordinarily a protective sensation that causes a person to move away from its cause, such as withdrawing one's hand from a fire. 

In the case of CPS, a source of the pain does not exist.  Instead, the sensory pathways within the brain have been damaged by the stroke.  This stimulates central nerve fibers, which creates a perception of pain.

CPS is a burning, aching, or cutting sensation with a mixture of pain sensations, the most prominent being intense sunburn.  Intermixed with this pain are sensations of cold, "pins and needles" tingling, and nerve proximity.

CPS includes several painful conditions such as pain to one side of the face, shoulder, lower back, arm, hand, leg and foot.  Pain may be moderate to severe in intensity and is often exacerbated by movement and temperature changes, usually cold temperatures.

Spasticity and joint stiffness can contribute to the pain, as limbs contract and expand during movement. 

Also, pain sensations are increased significantly by any light touch.


Stroke Warning Signs

bullet Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body   
bullet Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding   
bullet Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes   
bullet Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination   
bullet Sudden, severe headache with no known cause


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