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Pain Management: Central Pain Syndrome

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Central pain syndrome is a neurological condition caused by a dysfunction that specifically affects the central nervous system (CNS), which includes the brain, brainstem, and spinal cord.

The disorder can occur in people who have -- or who have experienced -- strokes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, brain tumors, limb amputations, brain injuries, or spinal cord injuries. It may develop months or years after injury or damage to the CNS.

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What Are the Symptoms of Central Pain Syndrome?

Central pain syndrome is characterized by a mixture of pain sensations, the most prominent being a constant burning. The steady burning sensation is sometimes increased by light touch. Pain also increases in the presence of temperature changes, most often cold temperatures. A loss of sensation can occur in affected areas, most prominently on distant parts of the body, such as the hands and feet. There may be brief, intolerable bursts of sharp pain on occasion.

How Is Central Pain Syndrome Treated?

Pain medications often provide little or no relief for those affected by central pain syndrome. However, some antidepressants and anticonvulsants can be useful in treating central pain syndrome. 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on April 15, 2015
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