Chronic pain following stroke: Current treatment and perceived effect

Disabil Health J. 2021 Jan;14(1):100971. doi: 10.1016/j.dhjo.2020.100971. Epub 2020 Aug 5.


Background: Chronic pain is common following stroke, however there is little known about the treatments for pain that are being accessed by stroke survivors, nor their perceived effectiveness.

Objectives: The objectives were to: i) identify the number and type of treatments for pain currently used by stroke survivors with chronic pain; and ii) examine the self-perceived effectiveness of medication and non-medication treatments for pain.

Methods: Cross-sectional survey. Participants with stroke and self-reported chronic pain completed an online survey that measured demographics, stroke related factors, intensity of pain, treatments for pain, and perceived effect of medication and non-medication treatments for pain.

Results: Of 322 stroke survivors who completed the survey, the majority (90.1%) reported current use of pain treatment(s). Medications were accessed by 257 (79.8%), with the most common being anti-inflammatories (39.8%), anticonvulsants (29.5%) and antidepressants (24.8%). Paracetamol (12.1%) was the most common non-prescribed medication used. Polypharmacy was high, with 129 (40.1%) reporting taking 2 or more medications. Medication treatments were self-reported to be effective in 47.1% of those taking medication. Non-medication treatments were accessed by 208 (64.6%), with Physical Therapy/Physiotherapy being most common (48.1%), followed by Occupational Therapy (15.5%) and Psychology (11.8%). Use of multiple non-medication treatments was reported by 85 (26.4%). Non-medication treatments were reported to be effective by 52.4% of those receiving them.

Conclusions: Survey findings indicate that stroke survivors with chronic pain demonstrate high utilization of pain treatments, despite the perception that treatment is often ineffective. This highlights the need to develop effective pain interventions for stroke survivors.

Keywords: Chronic pain; Intervention; Pain; Patient-reported outcomes; Stroke.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Pain* / drug therapy
  • Chronic Pain* / etiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disabled Persons*
  • Humans
  • Pain Management
  • Stroke* / complications