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Managing Phantom Limb Pain

los angeles amputation

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Coping with Phantom Limb Pain

Lingering pain after a surgery is normal. It is part of the healing process and generally goes away with time. However, amputations are another story.

After the initial post-surgical pain subsides, patients often experience what is known as “phantom pain,” a  mild to severe pain that feels like it’s coming from the missing body part. While modern medical techniques have significantly reduced the occurrence of phantom pain, between 60 and 70 percent of patients still feel some phantom pain to this day.

The actual figure may be even higher since patients often are reluctant to report it. Even though the pain is very real to them, they can see clearly that their limb is gone, so they fear that their doctor might begin to question their sanity.

But the opposite is true. Physicians today recognize phantom pain as a legitimate condition that originates in the spinal cord and brain, and can actually help amputation patients relieve their phantom pain by finding the treatment that is right for them.

The success of treatment for phantom pain depends on the patient’s level of pain and the various mechanisms playing a role in causing the pain. Below are some of the most effective ways to treat phantom limb pain.


Depending on the level of your pain and the various mechanisms causing it, you might be prescribed any of the following medications:

  • Acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Opioids (narcotic pain medications)
  • Antidepressants
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Beta-blockers
  • Muscle relaxants

In order to find the combination of medications that works for you, consult with your healthcare provider and give him or her information about your pain – the more, the better.

Non-Medication Treatments

The following alternative/complementary treatment techniques can be helpful for the reduction of phantom limb pain:

  • Acupuncture
  • Massages
  • Mirror box therapy
  • Local injection therapy
  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Nerve cuff stimulation
  • Virtual reality therapy
  • Imagery
  • Music

Again, consult with your healthcare provider to determine what’s right for you. The more you work with him or her, the more effective and comprehensive your pain management plan will be.

Getting Financial Support

As an amputee, you may be thinking, all of these treatments sound great, but I’m not sure I can pay for them without taking on massive debt. If your amputation injury was caused by another party, there may be a solution.

Reach out to the experienced California amputation attorneys at Wilshire Law Firm today to find out whether you have a valid personal injury claim. If so, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. To learn more about your legal rights and options, call us today at (800) 522-7274. We offer FREE consultations.

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