Skip to main content

Central Pain Syndrome

What is Central Pain Syndrome?

Central Pain Syndrome (CPS) is a rare neurological condition caused by damage to the sensory pathways in the central nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord. The damage stimulates the brain’s pain receptors to send and receive inaccurate messages.

About 1.4 million Americans are thought to have CPS. This syndrome can be caused by stroke, multiple sclerosis, tumors, epilepsy, brain or spinal cord trauma, or Parkinson’s disease. While Central Pain Syndrome can cause serious discomfort, doctors at UTHealth Houston Neurosciences can provide treatment to manage and improve symptoms.

What You Can Expect at UTHealth Houston Neurosciences

At UTHealth Houston Neurosciences, our dedicated team uses the latest technology to accurately diagnose and treat each patient. We work in multidisciplinary teams of specialists who share insights, leading to better treatment decisions and outcomes. Throughout the treatment process, we will work closely with the doctor who referred you to ensure a smooth transition back to your regular care. While you are with us, you will receive expert care, excellent communication, and genuine compassion.

Causes of Central Pain Syndrome

Several different conditions can trigger Central Pain Syndrome, including strokes, aneurysms, and tumors. It can also occur months or years after a traumatic injury to the brain or spinal cord. CPS can also be present along with a condition like Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis.

Central Poststroke Pain, which is sometimes what the condition is called following a stroke, is experienced by nearly 10% of stroke sufferers. It can cause intermittent pain, along with burning or freezing sensations.

Signs of Central Pain Syndrome

Pain may be localized in a small area or widespread across the body. Patients may feel sharp pain and a constant burning sensation, which can be either constant or intermittent. The discomfort may increase in cold temperatures and other changes in weather conditions. Stress, strong emotions, bright lights, and loud noises can make it worse.


Your doctor will obtain a medical history and perform a physical examination. An imaging test, such as an MRI, might be used to determine the exact location of the damage. CPS can be difficult to diagnose. One common trait is that CPS must follow an event that injures or damages the central nervous system.


While traditional pain medications are often not effective for patients with Central Pain Syndrome, antidepressants and anticonvulsants may help manage symptoms. Your team at UTHealth Houston Neurosciences may also consider deep brain stimulation, a type of surgical treatment that implants electrodes to send stimulation to pain receptors. The cutting-edge procedure can be transformative with certain neurological symptoms, including CPS.

Contact Us

At UTHealth Houston Neurosciences, we offer patients access to specialized neurological care at clinics across the greater Houston area. To ask us a question, schedule an appointment, or learn more about us, please click below to send us a message. In the event of an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Room.