Thalamic syndrome is a condition in which the body becomes
oversensitive to pain as a result of damage to a sensory relay
station in the brain known as the thalamus. Dysesthesia, which
refers to feeling pain or uncomfortable sensations after being
touched by an ordinary stimulus or even in the absence of
stimulation, can occur during thalamic syndrome. Thalamic
syndrome can lead to continuing crude pain in the arms and/or
legs. The pain in thalamic syndrome can be made worse with
hot and cold temperature, emotional distress, and even music.
WHAT ARE OTHER PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH THALAMIC SYNDROME?
Position sense is the most affected in thalamic syndrome. In addition, the arms and legs
often have disturbances in the nerves and in muscles that control the size of the openings
in blood vessels. Another result of this syndrome is that the arms and legs in people with
thalamic syndrome often have disturbances of nutrition.
There is also a severe loss of superficial (on the surface) and deep sensation, with the
loss of deep sensory sensation being worse. Thalamic syndrome can also cause
temporary hemiparesis (weakness on one side of the body) and/or hemiplegia (paralysis
on one side of the body) on the side of the body opposite the lesion in the brain.
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WHAT CAUSES THALAMIC SYNDROME?
The cause of thalamic syndrome is typically vascular (related to
blood vessels). For example, a stroke, which is a burst artery (a
type of blood vessel that carries blood away from the heart) or a
blockage of an artery in the brain, can also lead to thalamic
syndrome if the stroke occurred in the area of the thalamus.
Specifically, an infarction (cell death due to oxygen loss or an
interrupted blood supply) in areas of the thalamus known as the
ventral posterolateral (located to the side) and ventral
posteromedial (located in the middle) thalamus (an area in the brain
that is involved in sensations), as well as related nerve fibers, are
most likely to lead to thalamic syndrome.
After a stroke that leads to thalamic syndrome, painful sensations can take months or even years to
appear. Thalamic syndrome can also be caused by a tumor.
WHAT ELSE IS THALAMIC SYNDROME CALLED?
Thalamic syndrome is also known as Thalamic Pain Syndrome, Dejerine-Roussy Syndrome, Posterior
Thalamic Syndrome, Retrolenticular Syndrome, Central Post-Stroke Syndrome, and is sometimes
described as neuropathic pain.
WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF THE TERM, THALAMIC SYNDROME?
Thalamic comes from the Greek word "thalamus" meaning "chamber" and the Greek word "ikos" meaning
"pertaining to." Syndrome comes from the Greek word "syn" meaning "together," and the Greek word
"dromos" meaning "course." Put the words together and you get "pertaining to chamber course together."