Those who experience phantom limb pain explain it as a lingering sensation or even the feeling of pain where a limb no longer exists. It is most commonly the result of those who have gone through an amputation, either from an accident or surgery.
The patients may experience two types of sensations: painful sensations and non-painful sensations. Painful sensations can be characterized as external sensations that include sensitivity to temperature, pressure, itchiness, touch, and vibrations. Alternatively, the patients may experience non-painful sensations which may be described as tinging or the feeling of being on “pins and needles.”
Physicians manage these patients with a variety of approaches.
Many medications modify the sensations that patients experience. These include some seizure medications and antidepressants. They may interrupt the signals going through the spinal cord and the brain. Regular use of these medications may thus help alleviate the symptoms and improve quality of life.
Injections and Nerve blocks
Some reports suggest that epidural injections prior to an amputation may reduce the likelihood of phantom limb pain. A preemptive consultation with a pain specialist to develop a plan for management forms a reasonable option for those about to have surgery.
After the symptoms have appeared, epidural steroid injections may still help.
Physical Therapy and Massage Therapy
Incorporating an intensive course of physical therapy and massage usually improves the condition, especially if started at the onset of the disease process. In combination with medical management this modality may help reduce the symptoms considerably.
Some patients may also benefit from acupuncture.
Virtual Reality Therapy
Some patients benefit from this innovative therapy where they make themselves believe they still have the limb that is missing. This can be accomplished by the use of mirrors. Many studies have shown significant improvements of symptoms using this modality.
A combination of the above options may help you attain the relief you need from your phantom limb condition.