If you have had an amputation, you’re probably aware of Phantom Limb Pain. However, many patients are unaware of the extent of the sensations, the cause, and the treatment options available.
The cause of Phantom Limb Pain lies within the spinal cord and brain. When the brain and spinal cord stop receiving normal messages from the amputated limb, abnormal excitatory signals are generated in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord coupled with a loss of inhibition that occurs at higher levels within the brain. The result is a state of hyperactivity and supersensitivity of the pain signaling pathways within the brain.
Patients who experienced pain in the affected limb before amputation are more likely to have Phantom Limb Pain. Also, amputees that are diagnosed with stump pain or post-amputation pain (often caused by scar tissue or damaged nerves) can have a higher incidence of this condition.
People with phantom limb often experience the sensation that the amputated limb is still present and connected to their body. Patients living with Phantom Limb Pain experience the same sensation, but it is felt as pain in the absent portion of the extremity or limb.
Your neurosurgeon will discuss all the treatments available and help you define the right path toward managing your pain.