Limb pain is a common complaint following an amputation. Post amputation pain is often multifactorial and it will often cause significant problems for health care givers as they struggle to bring the pain under control. The solution is often for Pain Management Doctors to get involved.
Chronic pain occurs when the pain is persistent and lasting for a longer period of time. In the case of an amputation post, pain often occurs because of complications from the wound healing, local scarring, tissue loading effects, central neuropathic phenomenon and/or surgical trauma.
Limb pain is often categorized as the pain that occurs immediately following the amputation. It can begin with extrinsic residual limb pain, which leads to phantom limb pain. Unfortunately, not all doctors can decipher between the two and come up with a working solution for the patient, because the treatment that works does vary. Here we are going to look at the reality of phantom limb pain, and how pain management doctors can help.
Phantom limb pain can range from mild to extremely painful depending on where the amputation occurs. Generally, this type of pain does diminish over time, but when it continues for more than six months, you need to be referred to pain management doctors if you haven’t already.
The phantom limb can be linked to other sensations such as cramping, heat, cold, and tingling. If you are having any sensations that you did not have prior to your amputation, you need to speak with your doctor. You need to remember even though your limb in no longer there, nerve endings remain at the site and pain signals are still being sent to the brain, which in turn creates the pain you feel.
Sometimes, even when the pain is actually gone, the brain’s memory still interprets signals as painful regardless of the type of signal they are sending.
All of this can make it difficult for your doctor to get your pain under control. Pain management doctors are specifically trained in the management of pain and therefore, they have options available to them that your surgeon or family doctor may not have. They also are well versed in the combination of treatments to get the maximum benefits from it.
How Phantom Limb Pain is Treated
It can be difficult to treat phantom limb pain. The treatment is generally determined based on the degree of pain and often multiple treatments
• The application of heat
• Physical therapy
• Relaxation techniques
• The area of the amputation is massaged
• Surgery is done to remove any scar tissue
• TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) of the stump
• Biofeedback is used to reduce the muscle tension
• Medications such as anticonvulsants, pain-relievers, neuroleptics, beta-blockers, antidepressants, etc.
• Neurostimulation techniques including deep brain stimulation or spinal cord stimulation
If you have had an amputation and you find yourself still suffering from phantom pain or nerve pain, you do not need to suffer, ask your doctor to refer you to a Pain Management Clinic where Pain Management Doctors can assess your situation and help you.