Chronic pain common complication of clot-caused strokes

April 4, 2013

Chronic or persistent pain is a common—and likely under-recognized—complication of ischemic strokes (caused by a blocked blood vessel) according to new research in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.

In a large trial of treatments to prevent a second stroke, researchers found that 10.6 percent of more than 15,000 developed chronic .

"Chronic pain syndromes are common, even following strokes of mild to moderate severity," said Martin J. O'Donnell, M.D., lead author and professor of translational medicine at the National University of Ireland in Galway and associate clinical professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. "It is associated with greater decline in physical and cognitive function, making it an important medical complication after stroke."

Researchers examined data on 15,754 people who had survived mild to moderate strokes and were followed for an average 30 months in PRoFESS (Prevention Regimen for Effectively Avoiding Second Strokes), the largest study to determine the prevalence of chronic pain after .

Of the 1,665 stroke survivors reporting chronic pain beginning after their stroke:

  • 431 (2.7 percent) were classified as having central stroke pain, which is due to injury to the brain caused by stroke that can present as touch, temperature or other sensations being perceived as pain. Previous research has shown that central post-stroke pain may not manifest for many months after stroke has occurred, O'Donnell said.
  • 238 (1.5 percent) had peripheral neuropathic pain, a tingling, burning or shooting pain due to damage to nerves outside the brain and spinal cord
  • 208 (1.3 percent) reported pain from continuously tight or stiff muscles also called spasticity
  • 136 (0.9 percent) experienced caused by stroke-related weakness or spasticity
  • 86 (0.6 percent) said they had more than one type of pain
  • 739 (4.7 percent) reported other causes of pain, or had unclassified pain syndromes.
Significant risk factors for post-stroke pain included increased severity of stroke; female gender; greater alcohol intake; recent symptoms of depression; diabetes and vascular disease of blood vessels supplying the lower limbs.

Patients who developed post-stroke chronic pain were more than twice as likely to become more dependent during the follow-up period, than those whose recovery wasn't complicated by pain. Patients with non-central causes of pain were more likely to experience cognitive decline.

"We suspect that some of the association between and decline in cognitive test performance may be related to the use of medications to treat pain, but this was not evaluated in our study" said O'Donnell. "Our study emphasizes the importance of evaluating interventions to prevent post-stroke pain in high-risk individuals."

Explore further: Many suffer chronic pain after breast cancer surgery, study finds

Related Stories

Many suffer chronic pain after breast cancer surgery, study finds

January 22, 2013
(HealthDay)—About one-quarter of women who've had breast cancer surgery have significant and persistent breast pain six months after the procedure, a new study finds.

Study shows link between smoking and chronic pain in women

September 28, 2011
Kentucky women who smoke heavily may experience more chronic musculoskeletal pain, suggests a new study led by University of Kentucky researchers.

Negative emotions influence brain activity during anticipation and experience of pain

September 19, 2011
Neuroticism — the tendency to experience negative emotions — significantly affects brain processing during pain, as well as during the anticipation of pain, according to a new study in Gastroenterology, the official ...

Recommended for you

Could aggressive blood pressure treatments lead to kidney damage?

July 18, 2017
Aggressive combination treatments for high blood pressure that are intended to protect the kidneys may actually be damaging the organs, new research from the University of Virginia School of Medicine suggests.

Quantifying effectiveness of treatment for irregular heartbeat

July 17, 2017
In a small proof-of-concept study, researchers at Johns Hopkins report a complex mathematical method to measure electrical communications within the heart can successfully predict the effectiveness of catheter ablation, the ...

Concerns over side effects of statins stopping stroke survivors taking medication

July 17, 2017
Negative media coverage of the side effects associated with taking statins, and patients' own experiences of taking the drugs, are among the reasons cited by stroke survivors and their carers for stopping taking potentially ...

Study discovers anticoagulant drugs are being prescribed against safety advice

July 17, 2017
A study by researchers at the University of Birmingham has shown that GPs are prescribing anticoagulants to patients with an irregular heartbeat against official safety advice.

Protein may protect against heart attack

July 14, 2017
DDK3 could be used as a new therapy to stop the build-up of fatty material inside the arteries

Heart study finds faulty link between biomarkers and clinical outcomes

July 14, 2017
Surrogate endpoints (biomarkers), which are routinely used in clinical research to test new drugs, should not be trusted as the ultimate measure to approve new health interventions in cardiovascular medicine, according to ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.