Although much isn’t understood about phantom limb pain, it is experienced by 60 – 80% of amputees but all amputees experience this shortly after the loss of a limb. Some believe this is caused by the reorganization of our brains, while others think it could be the lack of signal from the limb to the brain. One theory about the cause of phantom limb pain is that nerves were folded into the ending. It is also believed that different things
- trigger the pain.
- Urination or defecation
- Sexual intercourse
- Cigarette smoking
- Changes in barometric pressure
- Herpes zoster
- Exposure to cold.So I watched a few videos that had Amputees. I found the one with Josh Sundquist, who lost his leg as a child due Ewings Sarcoma. He was very vivid in his details of what it felt like. A decade later he still feels the pain of 1000 needles sticking into him. Mary McFargo lost her leg due to an infection contracted after a surgery. She described the pain like someone was running her leg over. Mary, finds using a prosthetic makes life a bit more difficult and how upsetting it was she couldn’t dance at her daughter’s wedding. One thing I found interesting about Christina Steven’s discussing her phantom pain was prior to the amputation she suffered a lot of nerve pain which mostly went away once it had been removed but she still can feel the burning & tingling in the missing part of her foot and leg. She went into how many patients may feel like they are crazy for feeling the missing limb. Her analogy of phantom phone syndrome was great. She talked about how if you are used to your phone always being in your pocket and even when it’s not there you can still feel it. I also loved her warning to other amputees about being in the shower and still feeling the leg and tried to put pressure on it & was luckily enough to catch herself. Mary also had mentioned how she’ll be walking and suddenly feel her missing leg and how she ends up falling every time.Some of the things that helped Josh deal with the pain was his mother rubbing his leg that does exist. He can still to this day feel like he’s moving his missing leg. Although it is believed that pain medication can stop the pain, this didn’t work for Marry. Although Mirror therapy has helped many amputees. Mirror therapy tricks the brain into thinking the missing body part is still there by using the reflection of the existing body part. Unfortunately, for Mary, that didn’t help her. She also has found comfort in rubbing the foot of the existing leg has helped her deal with her pain. An alternative version of mirror therapy, in Sweden, was using virtual reality to help with phantom limb pain. They are finding this and the mirror therapy has been more successful than using pain medication.
One thing not mentioned in many articles and videos is hypnotherapy. Since this is not been mentioned by an amputee, I don’t know how well, it works but, this same type of therapy is used to help rewire one’s brain for other issues.
One other treatment, which I was wondering about after having done my externship at a pain clinic was stimulators or nerve blocks. Arizona Pain Center does actually talk about these being used as well as heat treatments to help with the pain.
AmputeeOT: Discussing phantom limb sensations and pain with amputation
Treating ‘phantom limb pain’ with mirror therapy
Phantom Limb Pain Help with NLP and Hypnosis
Managing Phantom Pain
What Causes Phantom Limbs
Living with Phantom Limb Syndrome
Phantom Limb Pain Explained by an AZ Pain Center (602) 507-6550
Phantom Limbs Explained
Hugh Herr: The new bionics that let us run, climb and dance
School Library Resource: Phantom motor execution facilitated by machine learning and augmented reality as treatment for phantom limb pain: a single group, clinical trial in patients with chronic intractable phantom limb pain