16th Dec, 2009 | Source : National Stroke Association
Cold winter months can trigger pain issues for people with old injuries. But, for many people, including stroke survivors, pain can be constant no matter what time of year.
Each person feels pain differently. Damage to the brain due to stroke can sometimes make the sense of touch hurt. Pain can result from things like muscle tightness or weakness and it can slow recovery from disease or injury and weaken the immune system. Also, pain often leads to a lower quality of life, interfering with routine activities that make life rich and fulfilling, such as driving, shopping, or hugging a child or grandchild. According to National Stroke Association, the good news is that even pain caused by stroke can be treated with a doctor’s involvement.
About 10 percent of stroke survivors experience some type of pain. It can be mildly uncomfortable to so severe that it hinders recovery. In some cases, pain is constant (chronic). In others it comes and goes. Some patients’ pain simply goes away with no explanation. Pain can occur right after a stroke or weeks or even months after a stroke. Survivors may experience multiple types of pain with differing symptoms resulting from different causes.
Types of pain after stroke
It is not unusual for stroke survivors to experience many different types of pain – from mild to moderate to severe – including pain that is:
• Local or “mechanical” in a joint or joints.
• Central pain, which is caused by damage to the brain.
• Constant (chronic) or comes and goes.
• Felt on part or all of the side of your body affected by the stroke.
• Felt on the face, arm, leg or torso (trunk).
• Aching, burning, sharp, stabbing or itching.
Visit www.stroke.org/pain for more detailed information about local or “mechanical” pain and central pain issues facing stroke survivors.
The first step to finding relief from pain is to identify what part of the body is the source of the pain. It is important to pay attention to when and where pain occurs. Note whether it seems to be caused by something or someone touching you. The next step is to report symptoms to your doctor. With your doctor’s help, the best treatment options, such as prescription medicines or physical therapy, can be determined. Some survivors are hesitant to discuss pain with their doctor because they fear appearing weak. Experts recommend that patients keep a pain diary to record where pain originates and how often the pain is felt. Also, patient comfort guides can help assess pain. These tools may make it easier to discuss details with your doctor. Visit www.stroke.org/pain for more information about pain treatments.
Tips for dealing with pain issues
• Try relaxation, meditation or hypnosis to manage your pain.
• Don’t let pain keep you from being active, because not using muscles can lead to muscle spasms and/or loss of muscle.
• Depression is common among those who suffer from chronic pain. Seek help through your doctor or caregiver if you are depressed. Counseling and/or antidepressant medicine can help.
• Speak honestly with caregivers about pain issues. They’ll be glad you did, and, together, you can often work out the best solution.
• Become a self-advocate for stroke recovery and pain issues: build an online pain management advocacy toolkit tailored to specific issues by visiting www.inthefaceofpain.com.