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Phantom Limb Pain

Ghost Pain from Lost Limbs

Phantom limb pain is painful sensations that seem to be coming from the missing part.

Understanding Phantom Limb Pain

If you have lost a limb or another part of your body, you may feel some sensations that seem to be coming from the missing part. Sometimes, this could manifest as pain this phenomenon is called “phantom pain.” It is common among amputees. It can become a chronic problem for some people.

Why Do I feel Pain Even Though My Limb is Gone?

Phantom limb pain is a result of the way that the brain and nervous system are designed. When a piece of your body is removed, the sensory nerves are damaged in that area, but the nerve that send sensation messages to the spinal cord and brain are still intact. The nervous system becomes confused and may perceive this as pain, even though the amputation site may be fully healed and there is no tissue damage. The nerve system that transmits pain is shifted into an “on” position, and continues in that way until treatment can help to turn that system “off”.

Symptoms

Pain often develops in the area of greatest stress on the joints, discs, and bones

Symptoms of phantom pain often begin shortly after your amputation. You may feel stabbing, burning sensations. You may feel as if the missing part is being squeezed. It may throb. You may feel like the missing part is being bent into a painful position. These sensations may come and go, or you may feel them all the time.

How to treat Phantom Limb Pain

Treatment options may include:

  • physical therapy
  • topical and oral medications
  • peripheral nerve blocks
  • sympathetic nerve blocks
  • epidural steroid injections
  • spinal cord or DRG stimulation.

These therapeutic techniques aim to reset and reduce the nerve transmission of unnecessary painful sensation, and return the nervous system and your function back to normal. Your pain specialist can create a care plan that is right for your needs.

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