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Phantom Limb Pain

Phantom Limb Pain – An Overview

When a limb gets amputated from the body, it results in sensory issues which makes the person feel that the limb is still there. Earlier, it was thought to be a psychological issue but now researchers believe that it happens due to the nervous system re-aligning itself. Sometimes, this post-surgery disorder can lead to pain and discomfort called phantom limb pain.

How is Phantom Limb Pain Triggered?

After an amputation, the brain and the nervous system might not adjust to the abrupt change that has come in the body. This leads to the nervous system rewiring itself as it cannot get any input from the amputated limb. The remapping of the brain and spinal cord can be unpredictable giving rise to pain and discomfort. Researchers thought this to be just an imaginary psychological issue but now know it is more of a nervous system disorder.

Sensory inputs might still be getting triggered from the remaining part after post-surgery. The operation can cause scar tissues and injured nerve endings that might be triggering the pain.

Symptoms of Phantom Limb Pain

Phantom limb gives various sensory inputs to a patient like throbbing pain, twisting, needle prick like sensation, electric current shock, feeling hot or cold, itching, feeling vibrations, and movements.

Consult a doctor, if you feel the above symptoms after an unfortunate amputation.

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Treatment of Phantom Limb Pain

After the specialist at Dunes, Pain Clinic has diagnosed the phantom limb pain – treatment begins. Various therapy techniques might be used in curing phantom limb disorder ranging from medication to alternative treatment techniques. This condition needs to be tackled both at the physical and mental level, therefore, psychological counseling and education might also be done.

  • Medication Treatment: A combination of drugs is used in the treatment of phantom limb as there are no specific medicines for phantom limb pain. Therefore, your medicines might change a few times to find a combination that suits you. They can be:

    • OTC or over-the-counter medicines like ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen.

    • Tricyclic Antidepressants like amitriptyline, tramadol, and nortriptyline.

    • Drugs related to epilepsy (anticonvulsants) like gabapentin and carbamazepine.

    • Opioids like codeine and morphine.

  • Other Treatment Therapies: There can be a plethora of therapies that can be applied to phantom limb pain treatment. Some are:​

    • Nerve Stimulation Therapies: Your nerves might be given electrical stimuli in this therapy. Procedures might include TENS (Transcutaneous Nerve Stimulation), brain stimulation, and spinal cord stimulation.

    • Mirror Box Therapy: A psychological technique, this procedure makes use of a mirror to mimic the amputated limb movement through the intact limb. This tricks the brain to think that the limb is still there.

    • Massage Therapy: This conservative method can help relax the muscles and nerves around the operation area.

    • Acupuncture: An ancient method of puncturing specific points in the body through thin needles, this therapy has been found out to be effective in controlling pain.

    • Psychological Counselling: It is a very important therapy when it comes to a phantom limb. You might be counselled on how to handle the condition and distract your mind from the amputated limb.

Book an appointment with Dunes Pain for an expert consultation!

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