Phantom Limb Syndrome
(Phantom Pain; Phantom Limb; Neuropathic Pain)
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- Preamputation pain. If there was pain in the limb before it was removed, a patient is more likely to experience phantom pain afterward.
- Blood clot in the amputated limb.
- Infection in the limb before amputation.
- Previous damage to spinal cord or peripheral nerves that supplied the affected limb.
- Adults more commonly than children.
- Pain (by far the most common)
- Sensation of an article of clothing or jewelry
- Sensation that the limb is still attached and functioning normally
- Antidepressants—usually treat depression, but may be helpful in phantom limb pain at lower doses.
- Anticonvulsants—usually control seizures, but may also be helpful here.
- Chlorpromazine—usually treats schizophrenia, but may also be helpful here.
- Opioids—are powerful pain killers (eg, morphine).
- Clonidine—usually treats high blood pressure, but is helpful with pain generated in the brain.
- Baclofen—muscle relaxant and used to treat nerve damage pain.
Electrical Nerve Stimulation
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)—a tiny electric current is sent through the skin to points on the nerve pathway
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation—a strong magnetic pulse is sent through the scalp into the brain
- Spinal cord stimulation—an electrode is inserted and a small electric current is delivered to the spinal cord to relieve pain
- Regional sympathectomy—a surgical procedure that interrupts selected nerves near the spinal cord affecting the perception of localized pain
- Meditation and relaxation techniques
Amputee Coalition of America http://www.amputee-coalition.org
Amputee Resource Foundation of America http://www.amputeeresource.org
Amputee Resources http://www.prostheticdesigners.com/amputee.htm
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke http://www.ninds.nih.gov
Carlson N. Physiology of Behavior . Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon; 1998.
Flor H, Nikolajsen L, Jensen TS. Phantom limb pain: a case of maladaptive CNS plasticity? Nature Reviews Neuroscience . 2006;7:873-881.
Phantom pain. Mayo Clinic website. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com . Accessed August 5, 2005.
Sekuler R, Blake R. Perception . 4th ed. NewYork: McGraw-Hill Inc.; 1994.
- Reviewer: Rimas Lukas, MD
- Review Date: 11/2012 -
- Update Date: 11/26/2012 -