The term “phantom limb pain” (PLP) describes the experience of persistent pain in a limb that has been amputated. Even if the limb has been amputated, the pain continues.

The discomfort usually begins within a few days following surgery. Symptoms like a burning sensation or itching may all be described as “pain” in this context.

Nearly 50-80% of the world’s amputees are said to have endured this type of pain at some point.

Here’s all you need to know about Phantom Limb Pain:

What Causes Phantom Limb Pain?

PLP is different from other types of pain. It is assumed to be brought on by a combination of impulses coming from the brain and spinal cord.

Considering this notion is critical since the therapy for this kind of discomfort is different from that for other types of pain. The recent PLP treatments focus on altering the impulses coming from the brain or the spinal cord.

  • In the same way, specific actions or situations may trigger other kinds of pain, so can PLP. Some of the most common triggers include:
    • Angina (chest pain due to low oxygen to the heart).
    • Changes in temperature or barometric pressure.
    • Constipation
    • Shingles (herpes zoster).
    • Sex or physical touch.
    • Smoking
    • Stress

    Symptoms of Phantom Limb Pain

Symptoms of phantom pain might continue for a few hours or for days at a time.

The severity and frequency of pain typically lessen throughout the first six months after a limb loss.

As many as 8 out of 10 persons still suffer from phantom pain two years after amputating their limbs.

The possible symptoms of phantom pain include the following:

  • Painful or inflammation feeling
  • Pinching or clamping
  • Itchiness
  • Stabbing
  • Throbbing
  • Twisting

If you experience these symptoms, schedule an appointment with a certified doctor in anesthesiology and pain medicine immediately.

Risk Factors

Phantom pain isn’t experienced by everyone who’s had an amputation. It may be brought on primarily by two aspects.

  • Pain preceding amputation: People who had pain in a limb before its amputation are more likely to experience it after it.
  • Residual Pain: People experience phantom pain in the limb’s remaining portion. A neuroma, an abnormal growth on injured nerves, may cause discomfort in the limbs after a traumatic injury.

Treatments for Phantom Limb Pain

The goal of treatment for phantom limb pain is to relieve the pain.

It includes:

  • Drugs such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs).
  • Antidepressants
  • Medication to treat seizures.
  • Beta-blockers.
  • Relaxants for the muscles.
  • Injections

Electrical stimulation of the nerves, brain, or spinal cord may also alleviate pain.

These include:

  • Neurostimulation
  • Spinal cord stimulation.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS).

Takeaway

It can seem weird if your pain does not go away even after a limb’s amputation. In fact, you might even begin to feel as if you are imagining it.

Remember, PLP may include the term “phantom”, but it is very much real.

Trust yourself and report the symptoms to begin treatment as soon as you begin to experience these pains.

Book an appointment with Lakeshore Pain & Spine Center to relieve yourself from Phantom Limb Pain.