Central Pain Syndrome

National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

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It is possible that the main title of the report Central Pain Syndrome is not the name you expected.

Disorder Subdivisions

  • None

General Discussion

Central pain syndrome is a neurological disorder caused by damage to the sensory pathways of the central nervous system (CNS). Common symptoms include pain (but also pruritus) and loss of sensation, usually in the face, arms and/or legs. Pain is often constant (but can be intermittent) and can be mild, moderate, or severe in intensity. Affected individuals may become hypersensitive to painful stimuli. The specific type of pain experience can vary from one individual to another based, in part, upon the underlying cause of the disorder and the area of the central nervous system affected. Central pain syndrome can potentially disrupt an individual's daily routine. In severe cases, the pain can be agonizing and unrelenting and dramatically affect a person's quality of life. Central pain syndrome can develop following a variety of conditions including stroke, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, brain tumors, or iatrogenic damage to the central nervous system.

Central pain was first described in 1891 by German neurologist L. Edinger. For years, it was believed that the majority of cases of central pain syndrome were due to damage of the thalamus most often caused by a stroke. Later on, the disorder came to be labelled Dejerine-Roussy syndrome after the two French neurologists who described the so-called thalamic syndrome (1906), which included a pain component. Thereafter, and up until recently, central pain became synonymous with thalamic pain syndrome. However, researchers now know that damage to the pain-conducting pathways anywhere along the neural axis, from the spinal cord to the sensory cortex, can cause central pain syndrome, including cases following injury or a stroke. Consequently, the current name for this group of disorders is central pain syndrome to acknowledge that damage to various areas of the CNS (and not predominantly the thalamus) can cause central pain and that a stroke is not necessarily the primary cause. Central pain syndrome can be broken down into central pain of brain or brainstem origin or central pain of spinal cord origin. The term for the specific subtype of central pain syndrome caused by CNS damage due to a stroke is central post-stroke pain.

Supporting Organizations

American Chronic Pain Association

P.O. Box 850
Rocklin, CA 95677
Tel: (916)632-0922
Fax: (916)652-8190
Tel: (800)533-3231
Email: ACPA@theacpa.org
Website: http://www.theacpa.org

American Pain Society

8735 W. Higgins Road
Suite 300
Chicago, IL 60631
Tel: 847.375.4715
Email: info@americanpainsociety.org
Website: http://www.ampainsoc.org

Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center

PO Box 8126
Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8126
Tel: (301)251-4925
Fax: (301)251-4911
Tel: (888)205-2311
Website: http://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/GARD/

International Association for the Study of Pain

IASP Secretariat
1510 H Street NW
Washington, DC 20005-1020
Tel: (202)524-5300
Fax: (202)524-5301
Email: IASPdesk@iasp-pain.org
Website: http://www.iasp-pain.org

Irish Chronic Pain Association

Coleraine House, Coleraine St.
Dublin, 7
Tel: 35318047567
Fax: 35318047567
Email: info@chronicpain.ie
Website: http://www.chronicpain.ie

NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

P.O. Box 5801
Bethesda, MD 20824
Tel: (301)496-5751
Fax: (301)402-2186
Tel: (800)352-9424
Website: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/


c/o Dannemiller, Inc.
5711 Northwest Parkway
San Antonio, TX 78246
Tel: (210)641-8311
Fax: (210)641-8329
Email: editor@pain.com
Website: http://www.pain.com

For a Complete Report

This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). For a full-text version of this report, go to www.rarediseases.org and click on Rare Disease Database under "Rare Disease Information".

The information provided in this report is not intended for diagnostic purposes. It is provided for informational purposes only.

It is possible that the title of this topic is not the name you selected. Please check the Synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and Disorder Subdivision(s) covered by this report.

This disease entry is based upon medical information available through the date at the end of the topic. Since NORD's resources are limited, it is not possible to keep every entry in the Rare Disease Database completely current and accurate. Please check with the agencies listed in the Resources section for the most current information about this disorder.

Last Updated:  4/30/2015
Copyright  2015 National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.