A stroke is medically understood as an acute event that presents with little to no forewarning. The condition is characterised by a sudden onset of weakness in an arm, hand or leg, or weakness on one side of the body. Though rare, some reports describe the onset of pain in the lower limbs as an atypical presentation of the condition.
A stroke in the parietal lobe occurs when a blood vessel in this region of the brain becomes blocked by a blood clot or the blood vessel bursts.
Because oxygen fuels cell activity, the brain then loses its ability to function, causing a cascade of symptoms.
“Parietal lobe stroke causes visual symptoms, sensory symptoms, abnormalities of self-perception and trouble with spatial skills,” explains Verywell Health.
A case report published in the Current Journal of Neurology in 2020 described the occurrence of pain as the first presenting symptom in an elderly patient.
The report states that the sudden onset of neurological deficits is the most common form of presentation of ischemic stroke.
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Sometimes, however, it can present with positive symptoms or signs such as limb shaking.
It states, however, that “neuropathic central pain as the first manifestation of an acute stroke is rare”.
In most cases the occurrence of pain only begins after a variable period of time, typically affecting between eight and 10 percent of patients.
The authors of the report wrote: “We present a patient with acute cerebral infarction in the parietal cortex who presented with contralateral limb pain as the form of presentation of an acute ischaemic stroke.
“An 82-year-old woman was admitted to our hospital due to sudden-onset severe pain in the left lower limb.
“She had a history of diabetes mellitus, hypertension, dyslipidemia, hypothyroidism, right splenectomy, dilated cardiomyopathy, and mild cognitive impairment.
“Sharp pain, rated using the numerical rated scale as 10/10 and located on the dorm of the left foot.”
The patient had reportedly been assisted at home during the onset of pain and was immediately transferred to the emergency department.
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After her admission to the hospital the patient’s pain drop to 6/10, but there was ongoing weakness in her leg, the report added.
It continued: “In conclusion, pain should be considered as an atypical symptom of stroke that can lead to confusion and related diagnosis and initiating the repression therapies in these patients.”
Although pain during stroke is rare, the American Stroke Association states that pain affects roughly 30 percent of stroke survivors to some degree after a cardiac event.
Many patients find that their toes start curling in as a result, which can cause complications when walking.
This can lead to the condition known as “claw toe”, a condition similar to “hammertoes”, which is caused by an imbalance of muscles in the feet and toes.
“Types of post-stroke pain include muscle and joint pain such as spasticity and shoulder pain. Headaches are more common soon after a stroke but should reduce over time,” adds the American Stroke Association.
“Some people get painful sensations like tingling, known as central post-stroke pain.”
If a person cannot lift both arms, smiles with both sides of their mouth, or say a full sentence, it is essential to seek emergency care.