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Phantom Limb Pain

Pain Management Specialists located throughout Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois

Phantom Limb Pain

About Phantom Limb Pain

For many men and women who have had all or part of a leg or arm amputated, phantom limb pain can be an unexpected side effect that can last a lifetime. The team of specialists at Commonwealth Pain & Spine understands how debilitating phantom limb pain can be and assists men and women from cities throughout Indiana and Kentucky in finding relief. If you or a loved one is struggling with phantom limb pain, help is available. Book a one-on-one consultation at the office nearest you today. Commonwealth’s Kentucky offices are in St. Matthews, Elizabethtown, Lexington, Crestview Hills, Owensboro, and London. Indiana offices are in Evansville, Vincennes, New Albany, Carrollton, and Jasper. They also serve patients from Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati, Ohio.

Phantom Limb Pain Q & A

What is Phantom Limb Pain?

Phantom limb pain is the sensations felt in the area where an amputated limb used to be. The condition is common in those who’ve gone through an amputation. In fact, virtually every patient experiences some form of phantom limb pain in the first six months or so after an amputation.

For some, those sensations can persist far longer and can eventually become a chronic, lifelong problem.

What Does Phantom Limb Pain Feel Like?

No two people share the exact same experience of phantom limb pain. Your pain can also change over time. Some of the symptoms of phantom limb pain include sensations of:

  • Burning
  • Twisting
  • Shooting
  • Crushing
  • Pins and needles
  • Electric shock

You might also experience unusual sensations of the missing limb that aren’t painful. It’s not uncommon to feel itching, vibration, temperature, pressure, or movement from a limb that is no longer there.

How Can I Relieve Phantom Limb Pain?

No specific drugs are marketed to relieve phantom limb pain, but certain medications used to treat other conditions can be very helpful. A number of antidepressants can help by altering the chemicals that create pain signals. Some anticonvulsants can help by soothing nerve pain.

Opioids can be effective for some but carry the risk of addiction. Other painkillers and even injections of pain-blocking medication can help relieve phantom limb pain.

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy, is another option that works by using a weak electrical current to disrupt the transmission of pain signals before they reach your brain. Acupuncture, increased physical activity, and even meditation and visualization can help you find relief.

Brain and spinal cord stimulation are sometimes used to treat phantom limb pain. These techniques work by implanting tiny electrodes near your spine. Electrical current is sent through those electrodes to your spinal cord and brain, which alters the way pain signals are communicated.

In some cases, a problem with the nerves in the area of the amputation can cause phantom limb pain. Surgery can help correct the issue and relieve pain as well as unusual sensations.

If you’ve had an amputation or are preparing for such a procedure, understanding phantom limb pain can help you know what to expect and how to get help. If you’re ready to explore treatment, book a consultation today at the office nearest you.