Phantom pain describes a painful sensation that can occur in a limb that is no longer present due to trauma or surgical amputation. It is often described as a shooting or burning type pain. The sensation can be constant for some people, but intermittent for others. Phantom pain is more common after amputation of a leg or an arm, but can also be experienced after removal of other body parts including the breast after mastectomy or the eye after eye removal (known as enucleation).
The exact cause of phantom pain is unknown, but it's associated with the following:
- Pain experienced prior to amputation
- Nerve damage
- Prior arterial blood clot
- Neuroma (nerve tumor)
Treating Phantom Pain:
Treatment of phantom pain includes medications and other options. Medications used include opioids, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, and anesthetics, to name a few. Non-pharmacological management measures include TENS devices, acupuncture, and electroconvulsive therapy.