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Central post-stroke pain (CPSP) is a poorly diagnosed chronic pain. It is under-treated and usually mismanaged.
To establish the prevalence of CPSP and its management in stroke clinics at a tertiary hospital.
This was a cross-sectional design with stroke patients and health professionals from the stroke clinic at the tertiary hospital in Zimbabwe.
Out of 166 stroke survivors, 8% had CPSP. Younger age (<60 years) was significantly associated with CPSP (P<0.003). Pain characteristics of CPSP were hyperaesthesia (10, 71%), electric shocks (9, 64%), temperature allodynia (9, 64%) and allodynia (12, 86%). Ten health professionals participated in the study: one (10%) reported using Douleur Neuropathique 4 (to diagnose neuropathic pain) and two (20%) reported using sensory tests. Four patients (44%) were on paracetamol (acetaminophen) and on weak opiates such as codeine. None of the patients were on anticonvulsants or antidepressants. Two medical doctors (50%) used weak opiates as second-line management. Five patients (36%) reported receiving a combination of massage, stretching, general exercise and moist heat or cryotherapy.
The prevalence of CPSP in the study group is within international range. There is a need for appropriate management and use of tests and outcome measures for diagnosis of CPSP.