Phantom limb pain refers to ongoing pain that seems to be originating in a part of the limb that is no longer there. In most cases, symptoms of phantom limb pain occur after surgery – while the limb itself may be gone, the pain is very real (and can be crippling). This condition is most prevalent amongst those who have recently undergone the surgical amputation of an arm or a leg; however, phantom limb pain can affect numerous other parts of the body. Some individuals will experience acute pain for a short period of time, while others may experience severe, ongoing pain – pain that does not resolve on its own. If you have been experiencing phantom limb pain of any severity, it is important that you contact a medical professional as soon as possible. Pain management is often necessary, and has consistently proven extremely effective in alleviating symptoms.
Those who suffer from phantom limb pain may be apprehensive about reaching out for help, seeing as they believe that they are imagining their symptoms – how can the pain be real if the limb has been removed? While researchers are not sure of the exact causes of this specific condition, it is widely recognized and validated throughout the medical field. Some believe that it has to with damaged nerve endings, which continue to send pain signals to the brain. Regardless of what causes phantom limb pain, it is very real – and can be crippling if not properly treated.
Symptoms of Phantom Limb Pain
In the vast majority of cases, phantom limb pain will begin within the first several days of amputation. While it commonly comes and goes, it can be continuous – this ongoing, seemingly untreatable pain can greatly interfere with daily functioning. Phantom limb pain can drastically increase recovery time, and lead to a host of physical and psychological symptoms. Symptoms of phantom limb pain may include:
- Alternating feelings of warmth and coldness
- Stinging, burning, or tingling sensations
- Discomfort of the part of the limb farthest from the physical body (for example, the hand of an amputated arm)
- Feeling as if the amputated limb is being bent into an uncomfortable position
- Related emotional or psychological issues
Treatment for Phantom Limb Pain
In most cases, a combination of medicinal and non-medicinal treatments is proven to be the most effective in treating phantom limb pain. Certain medications are used to interrupt the pain signals within the brain, such as beta-blockers, muscle relaxants, and anticonvulsants. In the majority of cases, however, non-medicinal treatment methods will prove successful, eliminating the need for medication of any kind. Some common methods of non-invasive treatment include:
- Mirror Box Therapy
- Physical Therapy
- Music Therapy
- Virtual Reality Therapy
How Comprehensive Pain of the Palm Beaches Heals Phantom Limb Pain
When treating phantom limb pain, the first step is deciphering the origin and severity of the pain, and determining which treatment methods will best benefit each individual case. If possible, we try to avoid medicinal intervention – most cases of phantom limb pain can be successfully treated with a variety of non-medicinal methods, including physical therapy, acupuncture, and repositioning of the residual limb. We at Comprehensive Pain of the Palm Beaches have ample experience treating those suffering from phantom limb pain, and are well-versed in all potential treatment options.
If you are suffering from phantom limb pain, we can help. Call (561) 434-7577 and let the caring staff at Comprehensive Pain of the Palm Beaches get you on the path to healing.