What can be done about my husband's ongoing stroke pain, and does it mean there's another one coming?

1 answer | Last updated: Nov 13, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

What can be done about my husband's ongoing stroke pain, and does it mean there's another one coming? Ten years ago my husband had a stroke. As he described it, it was a intense pain in his head, like it was exploding and flashing lights in his eyes. He was driving at the time and was able to pull to the side of the road. He waited about a hour until he was able to drive, and drove home. The doctor did tests and said he'd suffered a stoke. He had lost some sight in his left eye, but after time has regained it. The problem is the head stroke pain, as he calls it. He says he feels "fuzzy" and the pain in his head makes him irritable. What if anything can be done to ease the stroke pain and should we be worried that more is to come?


Expert Answers

James Castle, M.D. is a neurologist at NorthShore University HealthSystem (affiliated with The University of Chicago) and an expert on strokes.

Head pain is not common during, or after, a stroke.  When it occurs, it may be a sign of 1) bleeding, 2) a tear in one of the arteries, 3) a clot in one of the veins, 4) opening up of smaller arteries when one of the larger ones is occluded, or 4) a side effect of his medicine.  I typically evaluate this by obtaining an image of the brain and its vessels, and checking the medication list.  One medicine that is not infrequently associated with headaches is Aggrenox.  If he is taking that, it may be worth trying a different medicine.

If imaging is negative, and it does not appear to be one of his medicines, than the headache sounds more benign, and can be treated conservatively with headache medicines.  There are several medicines that help prevent nerve pain after stroke, and you should inquire with your Neurologist about an appropriate choice of medicine. 

I hope that helps.