Stroke patients often suffer from a condition called stroke numbness. This takes the form of a fleeting but constant pricking sensation or the complete loss of sensation along the body.
Does stroke numbness ever go away? Well…
Yes, it does! Most patients report that stroke numbness goes away on its own after the first few months spent in recovery. However, others, especially those who have suffered more serious and damaging strokes, may find that the stroke numbness will linger and perhaps require further rehabilitation.
Whether or not you fall into the former or latter category, stroke numbness is a serious and potentially debilitating side-effect of a stroke. As such, it is important that you understand it and know how you might be able to deal with it in the future.
When does Stroke Numbness Go Away?
Recovery happens after a time, but, unfortunately, this time can be both faster or slower depending on your own unique circumstances.
The soonest stroke numbness recovery occurs is within the first few months. For some, nothing more aggressive than regular rehabilitation is required for general stroke recovery. Opposite to that, some patients may require more rehabilitation and a longer recovery period, months, or years even, in order to regain sensation.
In either case, recovery is possible. It’s just a matter of putting in effort into your own rehabilitation and waiting for your effort to bear fruit.
What Causes Stroke Numbness?
Before we discuss what can be done in order to help your recovery from stroke numbness, let’s first talk about what causes it in the first place.
You’re no doubt aware that a stroke causes major damage to the brain and its brain cells and tissue. In this case, damage to certain parts of the brain, especially the ones responsible for interpreting your sensory input (like the thalamus), will make it so that your body is unable to translate what you’re feeling into actual sensation.
More severe damage will take a longer time to heal. Especially if the damage is targeted at the neural networks that allow for the transmission of sensation from your skin to the brain.
How is Stroke Numbness Treated?
Now that we’ve discussed how long it could take to recover from stroke numbness as well as its causes, let’s take a look at some of the more common treatments involved. Any of the following may be suggested to you during or after the commonly recommended rehabilitation period.
- Sensory Re-Education is the process in which you are trained to interpret familiar sensations in new ways. More likely than not, even if the loss of sensation is severe, there are ways of identifying certain sensations through repetition. It’s a slow-going process, but one that has been proven effective by several studies.
- Electrical Stimulation is another commonly suggested treatment for patients suffering from stroke numbness. In this case, the body is stimulated with electrical impulses, which is a definitely more active approach at recalibrating the brain’s neural networks. This was proven, based on certain studies, to be most effective after the first month after a stroke.
- Acupuncture, although arguably different in methodology, offers the same benefits as electrical stimulation. The main idea here is that the needles inserted will help the body rearrange neural pathways by stimulating the flow of energy in the body. It’s not the most studied or even the most accepted form of treatment, but it’s one that many stand-by nonetheless.
There are definitely other forms of treatments available outside of the three mentioned up above. But the main practice involved in all of them is repetition. It’s all a matter of training the brain to get used to new ways of handling whatever senses you have now. As well as allowing the brain to heal itself from the damages accrued.
Final Thoughts: Does Stroke Numbness Go Away?
As mentioned in the beginning, yes it does.
For most, this process occurs after the first few months spent recovering from the stroke (or strokes.) However, for others, especially those that accrued a lot of damages in the thalamus region of the brain, which is largely in charge of interpreting sensations, it may take a little longer.
Fortunately, if you are eager to be able to do something about your current condition, there are ways of potentially helping your recovery forward. In most cases, this involves actively working with a specialist who will help guide you through treatments like sensory re-education, and in others, this may mean seeking out alternative methods, like electrical therapy or acupuncture!
- Carlsson, Håkan, et al. “SENSory Re-Learning of the UPPer Limb after Stroke (SENSUPP): Study Protocol for a Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial.” Trials, BioMed Central, 17 Apr. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5904984/.
- Smith, Patricia S, et al. “Effects of Repetitive Electrical Stimulation to Treat Sensory Loss in Persons Poststroke.” Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Dec. 2009, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19969176.