Phantom Limb Pain

Phantom limb pain is the feeling of pain or other sensations in a limb that has been amputated. The precise reason this occurs remains unknown, but apparently, the brain of the amputee is continuing to receive messages from nerves associated with the amputated limb. Typically, there is the strong sensation that the amputated limb is still attached, and functioning as it was prior to the amputation.

Symptoms Of Phantom Limb Pain

Although generally referred to as phantom limb pain, an amputee with the disorder can experience any sensation, including mild or severe pain, felt in the limb prior to its removal. Sensations may include the following:

  • Heat or cold
  • Pleasure
  • Clothing or jewelry against the skin
  • Tingling or itching
  • Cramping

When some time has passed after the amputation, phantom limb sensations usually decrease or disappear. When they last for more than 6 months, however, there is less chance that they will go away.

Treatment Of Phantom Limb Pain

Amputees who suffer from phantom limb pain have many available treatment options for this condition. Pain management treatments may include:

  • Application of heat
  • Biofeedback
  • Massage
  • Acupuncture
  • Electrical nerve stimulation
  • Physical therapy
  • Medications (such as pain relievers, antidepressants and beta blockers)

One or more of these treatments frequently provides relief for amputees suffering from phantom limb pain.

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