Refractory pain symptoms following a stroke can be an indicator that your girlfriend is suffering from what is called central pain syndrome. In order to determine if this is in fact the underlying cause of her pain, it is important that she sets up an appointment to see a neurologist
, so that he or she can completely review her case, perform a physical examination, and run any tests that are indicated.
Central pain syndrome used to be called thalamic pain syndrome, because people who have strokes in the area of the brain called the thalamus often experience significant pain following the stroke that persists and is very resistant to treatment. However, other areas of the brain regulate pain within the body, so having a stroke in any of these areas can lead to residual and debilitating pain symptoms. Based on the description you provided, it seems as though your girlfriend may be suffering from central pain syndrome, which resulted from her stroke. In terms of treatment, there are a number of medications that can be helpful. Opiate pain killers are not very effective, because they last briefly and can be addictive. However, if the pain is very severe, these may need to be used for a short time. More effective medications that treat neuropathic pain, such as amitriptyline, SSRI medications, gabapentin, and pregabalin may also be helpful. Thorazine (chlorpromazine) was traditionally used to treat this condition, although this medication does have a significant side effect profile, so it has fallen out of favor over the years. However, it is still an option. If medications do not work to treat her pain, there are also surgical options, such as electrode stimulator implantation
or spinal cord stimulator implantation.
Again, in order to adequately evaluate for whether your girlfriend is suffering from central pain syndrome and how to effectively treat it, it will be important for her to schedule an appointment to see a neurologist.