Phantom Pain. Phantom pain is pain that feels like it's coming from a body part that's no longer there. Doctors once believed this post-amputation phenomenon was a psychological problem, but experts now recognize that these real sensations originate in the spinal cord and brain.
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Phantom pain is pain that feels like it's coming from a body part that's no longer there. Doctors once believed this post-amputation phenomenon was a psychological problem, but experts now recognize that these real sensations originate in the spinal cord and brain.
Although phantom pain occurs most often in people who've had an arm or leg removed, the disorder may also occur after surgeries to remove other body parts, such as the breast, penis, eye or tongue.
Many experts believe that the brain is getting mixed signals and that can partially explain the reason why people get phantom pain. After an amputation, the brain loses connection to the limbs because they are no longer there and adjust to this problem in unthinkable ways. The main way that the brain tells the body there is something wrong is through pain. This is mainly just a version of tangled sensory wires in the body. Although the limb is no longer there, the nerve endings at the site of the amputation continue to send pain signals to the brain that make the brain think the limb is still there. Sometimes, the brains memory of pain is retained and is interpreted as pain, regardless of signals from injured nerves..
Studies also show that, after an amputation, the brain may remap that part of the body's sensory circuitry to another part of the body. In other words, because the amputated area is no longer able to receive sensory information, the information is referred elsewhere — from a missing hand to a still-present cheek, for example. So when the cheek is touched, it's as though the missing hand also is being touched. Because this is yet another version of tangled sensory wires, the result can be pain.
A number of other factors are believed to contribute to phantom pain, including damaged nerve endings, scar tissue at the site of the amputation and the physical memory of pre-amputation pain in the affected area. But like I mentioned before, there isn’t an exact cause of phantom pain. People are still researching this and trying to come up with an answer and many solutions are thought of daily. There are so many things that happen with this disorder that make it hard to find one solution.
Although there are not any medical tests
to diagnose phantom pain doctors can look
further and find information about your
symptoms and circumstance’s also knowing if
there was trauma or surgery before the pain
started is helpful.
Though there are no tests to diagnose
phantom pain, In order to get the proper
treatment for your phantom pain, your
doctor has to differentiate phantom limb
pain from stump pain. Giving your doctor
an accurate description of pain symptoms is
very important because it could affect the
physician's treatment decisions
Treatment is based on the individuals pain level. In most cases multiple treatments are combined. Treatments include:
Massage of amputated area
Surgery to remove the scare tissue entangling the nerve
Electrical nerve stimulation of limb
Spinal cord/deep brain stimulation
Medications such as pain medications, antidepressants, beta blockers, sodium channel blockers