Physical Changes Post-Treatment

Recovery after brain aneurysm treatment varies based on factors like whether the aneurysm ruptured and the type of treatment (open or endovascular).

After Surgical Treatment

Following open surgery (e.g., clipping), patients may experience:

  • Incision Pain/Numbness: Pain at the surgery site is common and may last several weeks. Sharp pain from nerve regeneration is normal and temporary. The incision area might feel numb, which could improve over time. Sleeping on the incision side may be uncomfortable but is safe.
  • Hearing Loss: Muffled hearing in the ear on the incision side is due to fluid accumulation and typically improves within a few weeks.
  • Clicking Noise in Head: A clicking noise when moving your head is normal and results from bone healing. It usually subsides after a few weeks.
  • Seizures: Seizures may occur during an aneurysm rupture or post-surgery. Anti-seizure medication may be prescribed short-term, especially if seizures do not recur. Adhere strictly to medication instructions from your doctor.
  • Jaw Pain: Jaw pain when eating or brushing teeth is due to muscle manipulation during surgery. This should improve over time. Exercising the jaw (opening and closing it about 10 times, 4-5 times a day) can aid recovery. Persistent pain after six weeks may require physical therapy.
After Endovascular Treatment

Following endovascular treatment (embolization) for a brain aneurysm, patients may experience:

  • Groin Pain: Bruising and discomfort at the catheter insertion site are common. Avoid strenuous activity and hot baths for a week. Contact your doctor if a hematoma develops or if pain/swelling increases.
  • Hair Loss: Temporary hair loss may occur due to radiation or contrast dye. Hair will regrow. Stress and medication can also cause temporary hair loss.
Longer-Term Changes:
  • Fatigue: Persistent tiredness is common. Gradually increase activity levels over time. Manage visitors to avoid exhaustion. Consult your doctor if sleep issues persist.
  • Diminished Sense of Smell and Taste: Changes in smell and taste may occur, especially if the aneurysm ruptured or compressed surrounding nerves. These changes may be permanent.
  • Low Back Pain: Caused by blood in spinal fluid or prolonged bed rest, it improves with increased activity. Physical therapy, gentle stretching, or a heating pad can help. Consult your doctor if pain persists.
  • Headaches: Common, especially after a rupture. Headaches vary in intensity and duration. Use prescription pain medication initially, then switch to over-the-counter options like Tylenol. Notify your doctor if headaches persist.
  • Vision Problems: Blurred vision and focusing issues are common and usually improve over time. If persistent, consult a neuro-ophthalmologist.
  • Constipation: Often due to inactivity, low-fiber diet, or narcotic medications. Increase activity and fiber intake, and use stool softeners or mild laxatives. Avoid straining.
  • Slowed Reaction Times: Reaction times may be slower during recovery. Avoid driving and follow your doctor’s guidance on when it is safe to resume. The Department of Motor Vehicles can provide testing if necessary.

Social-Emotional Changes Post-Treatment

  • Loss of Emotional Control/Confusion: Survivors often temporarily lose control over emotions, experiencing anger, frustration, and sudden tearfulness. Confusion is also common; discussing these feelings can help, and symptoms usually improve over time. Counseling may be beneficial if needed.
  • Self-Esteem/Relationships: Changes in self-esteem and confidence due to new limitations are common. Communication with family, doctors, and therapists is crucial for adjustment. Relationships may temporarily change but often normalize as recovery progresses.
  • Isolation: Feeling different or isolated post-treatment is common. Joining support groups or online communities can provide connection and support.
  • Depression and Anxiety: These are common, influenced by the aneurysm and subsequent life changes. Depression affects mood, thoughts, appetite, sleep, and self-perception. Treatment usually involves medication and talk therapy.

It’s important to discuss these feelings with close ones and healthcare professionals, such as neuropsychiatrists or counselors.

▶️ Click here to see a list of potential symptoms
  • Feelings of sadness on a daily basis; crying more than usual
  • Guilt and regret about past events and current problems
  • Anger, irritability
  • Disturbing, morbid, or suicidal thoughts
  • Lethargy/no motivation
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities, including sex
  • Altered appetite: weight loss or gain
  • Disturbed sleep (early-morning awakening, disturbing dreams)

Potential Deficits

Survivors of brain aneurysms may face physical and neurological deficits, especially if the aneurysm ruptured. These deficits can be short- or long-term and vary in severity.

  • Greater Deficits After Rupture: Survivors of ruptured aneurysms often have more significant and noticeable deficits, requiring a longer recovery.
  • Therapy Benefits: Physical, occupational, and speech therapy can aid recovery, even for minor deficits. Therapy offers strategies and coping mechanisms.
  • Cognitive Challenges: Persistent issues with focus, memory, language processing, organization, concentration, decision-making, and higher-level thinking are common. Assessments by a neuropsychologist or speech-language pathologist can help evaluate cognitive functioning and life skills.
  • Subtle Deficits: Family members may notice subtle changes before the survivor does. Deficits often become apparent after resuming a demanding lifestyle. Discuss these challenges with a therapist or doctor.

Survivors should be proactive in seeking help and assessments to manage and overcome these potential deficits.

▶️ Click here to see a list of potential challenges
  • Physical and mental fatigue
  • Chronic headache or head pain (mainly ruptured aneurysms)
  • Concentration headaches
  • Vision deficits: partial or complete blindness, or peripheral vision deficits
  • Cognitive problems (such as short-term memory difficulties, decreased concentration, perception problems)
  • Articulation and speech-delivery problems
  • Behavioral changes
  • Loss of balance and coordination
  • Arm or leg weakness