ZocdocAnswersCould you have a stroke and not know it?

Question

Could you have a stroke and not know it?

My girlfriend complains about pain on one side of her body and that her left arm is weak. She?s only 29, but could she have had a stroke and not know it? Do young people get strokes?

Answer

Strokes, or cerebrovascular accident as it is medically known, are a relatively rare event in young individuals. However, it is possible. I would recommend that you have your girlfriend see her doctor to have this evaluated. A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interupted resulting in damage to the brain cells. This normally results in symptoms -- common ones include facial asymmetry or a facial droop, weakness in a part of the body, and inability to speak. Pain is not a common symptom, but the weakness you note certainly could be. Strokes can occur without symptoms, but these are very small. Strokes normally occur in older adults with damaged blood vessels. Rarely it can occur in young people. Sometimes women can get this because of abnormal blood clotting (sometimes related to birth control pills). Sometimes abnormal heart rhythms (known as atrial fibrillation) can cause this. Overall, this can occur -- but is rare. You should have this evaluated. There are other more common causes of this. For example, neck bone problems (known as cervical radiculopathy) can often cause pain and weakness. Another common problem in young women with pain and weakness is multiple sclerosis or MS. You should encourage your girlfriend to see her doctor. While unlikely to be a stroke, this should be evaluated.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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