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Effect of Duloxetine for the Treatment of Chronic Central Poststroke Pain

Kim, Na Young, MD, PhD; Lee, Sang Chul, MD, PhD; Kim, Yong Wook, MD, PhD

doi: 10.1097/WNF.0000000000000330
Original Articles

Objectives Central poststroke pain (CPSP) is the neuropathic pain in areas of the body corresponding to stroke lesions. It is often refractory to treatment, reduces quality of life, and impedes rehabilitation. The pharmacological treatment of CPSP is challenging. Duloxetine, a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, is known to be effective against neuropathic pain. The current study describes the efficacy of duloxetine in reducing pain severity in CPSP patients.

Subjects and Methods For the purpose of this study, CPSP was defined as spontaneous pain within an area of the body corresponding to the brain lesion that emerged at or after stroke onset. Any previously prescribed medical therapy for the patients was not changed or stopped; duloxetine 30 mg was added to their ongoing treatment. Pain was assessed at baseline and thereafter at 1 and 3 weeks using Numeric Rating Scale (NRS) and Short-form MC Gill Pain Questionnaire scores. At the first follow-up, scores were reviewed and dose was doubled if no improvement or adverse effects were observed.

Results From a total of 37 patients, 4 were withdrawn because of adverse effects including nausea, agitation, and somnolence. The mean elapsed time of observed symptoms since stroke onset was 3.1 ± 4.1 years. There was a significant difference between the mean values of Short-form MC Gill Pain Questionnaire and NRS scores at baseline and those at the follow-up assessment. Twenty-six (70.3%) of the patients showed at least 30% reduction of NRS compared with baseline at the third week.

Conclusions Our findings suggest that duloxetine can be effective for managing CPSP.

Department and Research Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Yong Wook Kim, MD, PhD, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Yonsei University College of Medicine, 50-1 Yonsei-ro Seodaemun-gu, Seoul 120-752, Republic of Korea; E-mail:

Conflicts of Interest and Source of Funding: The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.

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