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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.

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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
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.

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."