Stroke-Induced Pain Is Called Dejerine-Roussy Syndrome

Stroke and pain can come together as a result of a lacunar infarct (stroke) in an area of the brain called the thalamus. This important area serves as the relay station for sensory information from all over the body. Usually, such a lacunar stroke is specific to areas of the thalamus that receive information about pain, temperature, touch, vibration sense, and pressure from all over the body. When a stroke leads to pain due to damage in these areas, people are said to suffer from the Dejerine-Roussy syndrome. The syndrome is also sometimes called thalamic pain syndrome, or central pain syndrome (CPS).

Illustration of the effects of a stroke in the brain.

According to the American Stroke Association, there are no solid statistics for this type of pain following the stroke. A survey showed that nine percent of respondents had central pain syndrome. Those who suffer from it are often dismissed as making it up or exaggerating their pain.

Symptoms of Stroke-Induced Pain

The symptoms of Dejerine-Roussy syndrome include the following:

  • Unexplained pain coming from one side of the body
  • Abnormal sensation of pain to a normal stimulus, such as a gentle stroke over the skin
  • Tingling feelings from one side of the body
  • Feelings of excessive weight on one side of the body
  • Abnormal feelings of hot or cold on one side of the body

Sometimes the syndrome is accompanied by weakness in the face, arm, and/or leg on one side of the body, which begins shortly after the stroke. This weakness normally goes away over time, but the rest of the symptoms can be permanent.

The sensory symptoms of the Dejerine-Roussy syndrome can begin immediately after the stroke or come on slowly over the subsequent weeks, or months.

Treatment of Dejerine-Roussy Syndrome

Available treatments for the Dejerine-Roussy syndrome include antidepressants, which usually are cheap, safe and effective; anticonvulsants; and analgesic medications such as ibuprofen. In severe cases, people are given strong pain medicines such as morphine and methadone. Some people even benefit from wearing a device such as a morphine pump. Finding the right medication regimen can take time.

Surgical options also exist but neurosurgery should be the absolute last resort. Surgery includes deep brain stimulation, in which an electrode is implanted and sends stimulation to the pain receptors. Deep brain stimulation is used to decrease a person's perception of pain.

It is important to find the right doctor. Some patients find a good match on their first neurologist visit. Others have to go through many appointments before finding the one who understands their pain and begins exploring various possible treatments.

1 Source
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  1. Jahngir MU, Qureshi AI. Dejerine Roussy Syndrome. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing.

Additional Reading
  • American Stroke Association. Excerpted from When the Pain Never Goes Away; Stroke Connection Magazine.

  • J. P. Mohr, Dennis W. Choi, James C. Grotta, Bryce Weir, Phillip A. Wolf Stroke: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, and Management Churchill Livingstone; 4th edition.

By Jose Vega MD, PhD
Jose Vega MD, PhD, is a board-certified neurologist and published researcher specializing in stroke.