Thalamic Nerve Pain

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Individuals who experience pain sensations on one side of the body may be experiencing the effects of thalamic nerve syndrome. This is a condition that results from stroke-related injuries present in the brain. As pain symptoms are often localized in one area of the body, diagnosing this condition can be difficult.

Thalamus Nerve

  • Thalamic nerve pain is a condition in which damage has occurred to the nerves leading to the thalamus. The thalamus is located in the basal ganglia region of the brain. This area is part of the brain stem, and is responsible for processing sensory information received from all areas of the body. The small arteries, or arterioles, that enter the brain stem also transport needed blood and oxygen supplies. If one of these vessels should become clogged or blocked, individuals may experience a stroke. The effects of the stroke can cause symptoms of pain to occur in various areas of the body.

Stroke

  • Thalamic nerve pain, also known as central post stroke pain (CPSP), indicates that cells within the central nervous system have either been injured, or died as a result of a stroke. Thrombosis is the condition that is present when there is a lack of blood flow to the cells. Ischaemia is the condition that's present when cells experience a lack of oxygen. As not all stroke incidences result in CPSP, those most likely to affect the thalamus nerve take place on the right-side of the brain. In these cases, individuals will experience pain symptoms on the left side of the body.

Symptoms

  • The symptoms that result from thalamic nerve pain can take anywhere from days to years to develop. Pain may be experienced on the whole one side of the body, or feelings of pain may be felt in the leg, arm, face or backside. Episodes of discomfort are typically ongoing, and tend to grow worse with time. Individuals may experience feelings of ache, or burning and pricking sensations. Changes in weather or certain movements or activities may further aggravate feelings of pain.

Treatment

  • The type of treatment used to relieve thalamic nerve pain varies according to how severe a person's symptoms are, and what areas of the brain are affected. Analgesic medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen provide minimal relief, however they do work better when taken with narcotic analgesics like Vicodin or codeine. Other more non-traditional medications include anti-convulsives, anti-depressants and anti-seizure drugs. More alternative forms of treatment being developed include deep brain stimulation and motor cortex stimulation methods. These involve administering electrical stimulation to the affected brain areas.

Considerations

  • As the symptoms that accompany thalamic nerve pain can vary in intensity and location, properly diagnosing this condition can be difficult. Individuals are most likely to report pain symptoms in specific areas of the body. As a result, medical practitioners may be apt to look for the source of the pain in an area related to where the patient describes. Skin conditions, pinched nerves or arthritis are possible diagnoses when the source has not been correctly identified. In some cases, the symptoms experienced may indicate the presence of a different condition involving muscle sprains or joint-related injuries.

References

  • Photo Credit Brain blogger/flickr.com -- a brain/spinal cord diagram
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