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 - Northwestern Memorial Hospital - Chicago


Treatments available include medical and surgical options.

Medical Treatment Options:

There are many types of medications used for the treatment of central pain. Narcotics such as morphine, codeine, hydrocodone and oxycodone often are not effective for this type of pain. More often, medications that modulate the neurotransmitters in the brain are used to help control central pain. Most of them were originally developed for other purposes such as:

  • Antidepressants—duloxetine, amitriptyline, nortriptyline
  • Anticonvulsants—gabapentin, carbamazepine, phenytoin, pregabalin, topiramate and levetiracetam

Surgical Treatment Options:

When medications fail to provide adequate relief, surgical procedures can help. The main surgical procedures used for central pain are:

  • Motor cortex stimulation—Using computer-guided surgical techniques, stimulating electrodes are placed on the covering of the brain over the region controlling movement of the painful body area. An implanted pulse generator (battery) sends constant electric pulses to the area to relieve pain.
  • Deep brain stimulation—One or two small wires are placed deep in the areas of the brain that relay pain signals. Microelectrode recording (brain mapping) techniques are used to precisely localize the area to place the electrode. An implanted pulse generator (battery) sends constant electrical pulses to the area to relieve pain.


The Functional Neurosurgery Program (Campus Map)
675 N. St. Clair Street, Suite 20-100
Chicago, IL 60611

Last UpdateJune 6, 2011