What is Phantom Limb Pain?
Phantom limb pain is categorized as pain that seems as if it is coming from a limb that is no longer a part of your body. Though it was once thought that phantom limb pain was a psychological condition, it is now known that it originates from the spinal cord and the brain. In some cases, phantom limb pain can improve without the need for treatment, but for some patients, treatment may be necessary to effectively treat the pain. At Tricity Pain Associates, our team of certified pain management specialists offers a variety of options to treat phantom limb pain and its unpleasant symptoms. To learn more, we invite you to contact one of our Texas pain management facilities to schedule an initial consultation.
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Symptoms of Phantom Limb Pain
Some signs and indications of phantom limb pain include:
- Pain that occurs after the first week of amputation but can also occur months later
- Chronic pain or pain that comes and goes
- Shooting, stabbing, cramping pain
- Pain that affects the limb farthest away from the body, for example, pain in the hand of an amputated arm
There is no specific diagnostic testing to properly identify phantom limb pain. However, it can be identified by evaluating your current symptoms and examining your medical history. In some cases, patients may think they are suffering from phantom limb pain when it may actually be residual limb pain. Since the treatments for these two conditions differ, it is crucial to receive a proper diagnosis by one of our pain management specialists.
What Causes Phantom Limb Pain?
The specific cause of phantom limb pain is unknown, but experts believe it stems from the spinal cord and brain. Following an amputation, parts of the brain and spinal cord no longer receive signals from the amputated limb. Both the brain and spinal cord may then adjust in ways that can be unforeseeable. This can include displacing sensory information to another area of the body. Some other factors that are thought to contribute to phantom limb pain are scar tissue and harm to nerve endings.
Treatments for Phantom Pain
Treatment for phantom limb pain can vary, depending on the severity of the condition. Initially, medication and therapeutic remedies may be recommended, such as acupuncture and mirror box techniques. If these prove to be ineffective, then one of our pain management experts may suggest spinal cord stimulation. During this procedure, a small electrode is inserted along the spinal cord and an electrical current is administered to help alleviate pain and discomfort.
Before recommending any form of treatment, our team of specialists will provide the appropriate information about all of your options. We will also provide any necessary aftercare instructions to ensure the best possible result.
Alleviate Phantom Limb Pain
Dealing with phantom limb pain can be frustrating and uncomfortable. Thankfully, our team at Tricity Pain Associates can offer you the appropriate treatment options to alleviate your pain. Contact one of our pain management locations in Texas to learn more and to schedule your consultation with one of our experts.