Chronic Pain Common after Clot-Caused Stroke

By: Alere Staff
Publication Date: Sat, 06/01/2013

In a large study, PRoFESS Trial (Prevention Regimen for Effectively Avoid Second Strokes) recently published online, patients who suffer a stroke from a blood clot have a higher risk of developing chronic pain after the stroke.1 According to the research published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke, chronic or persistent pain is common and often not recognized as a complication of ischemic strokes (caused by the blocked blood vessel from a blood clot).1

In the trial to study treatments to prevent a second stroke, the researchers found that over 10% of the more than 15,000 trial patients said they developed chronic pain after their stroke. The researchers followed people for over two years after their initial stroke. They found that the most common types of pain reported were nervous system pain (tightening, burning or shooting pain described as tingling), tight or stiff muscles, shoulder pain, and central stroke pain (touch, temperature or other sensations that seemed like pain).1

Patients who developed chronic pain after stroke were also more than twice as likely to rely on a caregiver during the follow-up period. Those patients with nervous system and shoulder or limb pain were also more likely to experience cognitive decline.1

Researchers also found that patients at higher risk of developing chronic pain are women, people who drink more alcohol, and patients with a history of diabetes, depression or vascular disease.1

The PRoFESS study was limited to patients with mild-to-moderate ischemic strokes, so the findings may not be applied to patients with more severe strokes. Also, the study lacked information on the types of medications used to treat pain, where the ischemic stroke occurred in the brain, and it could not determine the relationship between the pain and cognitive decline.1

  1. O’Donnell, M. J., et al. Chronic Pain Syndromes After Ischemic Stroke. PRoFESS Trial. Stroke AHA.111.671008. Published online before print April 4, 2013.