Phantom limb syndrome (PLS) is a condition in which an individual experiences sensations or pain in a limb that is no longer there. PLS is a common phenomenon among amputees, and it is estimated that up to 80% of amputees experience some form of phantom limb sensations. These sensations can range from mild tingling or itching to severe pain or discomfort. The exact cause of PLS is not fully understood, but it is thought to be related to the brain's perception of missing sensory input from the amputated limb.
How is Phantom Limb Pain Treated?
Phantom limb pain can be a challenging condition to manage, as there is no cure for the syndrome. However, there are a variety of treatments that can be used to alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life. Medications such as anticonvulsants, antidepressants, and opioids can be used to manage pain associated with PLS. In addition, physical therapy and other rehabilitative interventions can help to improve mobility and reduce discomfort associated with phantom sensations. Some patients also find relief with high frequency spinal cord stimulation.
One emerging treatment for PLS is mirror therapy. Mirror therapy involves placing a mirror in front of the intact limb and positioning it so that it appears as if the amputated limb is still there. The patient then performs a series of movements with the intact limb, which are reflected in the mirror, creating the illusion that the amputated limb is also moving. This technique has been shown to reduce pain and improve function in some patients with PLS. However, more research is needed to fully understand the efficacy of mirror therapy and other novel treatments for PLS.
How do I get Help for Phantom Limb Pain?
Call the Pain Management Centers of New England to set up your comprehensive pain consultation. As with all chronic pain, outcomes tend to improve with early treatment. Dr. Kenneth Branton, Dr. Charles Ho and Meghan Chase NP provide pain management services in Newburport, Danvers, and Gloucester, MA. We have a location near you.