What is phantom pain?
Can one really have pain in a body part that does not exist? Yes, by removing a body part, there is a dramatic change in the signals that the brain receives from the body.
Phantom pain belongs to the group of neuropathic centralized chronic pain. On the body map of the brain, the body part exists despite the fact that it is no longer physically present and the brain remembers pain from the actual time of injury / amputation.
The body has an ability to alleviate severe pain, but with amputations it works the opposite, it causes an intensification of the pain (sympathetic activation).
Who has phantom pain?
Some are not bothered or only to a small degree by phantom pain, others experience that the pain gradually decreases or disappears over time after amputation. Some have excruciating pain, more or less continuous, while others have little or no phantom pain as usual, while others experience that it goes in waves with intense peaks and extreme pain. There is no definitive answer to the incidence and intensity of phantom pain, nor what helps to avoid and reduce the pain.
How to avoid phantom pain?
With planned amputations in hospitals, there are good opportunities to avoid or at least reduce phantom pain. The person to be operated on should have a pain-free period of 3-4 days before the procedure in the form of epidural and peripheral anesthesia to reduce and minimize the incidence of phantom pain. Traumatic amputations and acute pain cases in accidents should be treated as soon as possible with morphine or other opiates both to reduce pain and the occurrence of phantom pain.
It may be advantageous to distinguish the acute surgical procedures from the more planned ones which may also to a greater extent take into account the adaptation of the prosthetic sleeve.
Can phantom pain be treated?
It is not the case that there is one treatment for phantom pain that works in all cases. What one finds soothing does not necessarily help the next person. Some benefit from physiotherapy, TENS, acupuncture, relaxation and / or hypnosis. Some have good experience with using phantom pain-relieving liner during prosthesis use and / or phantom pain-relieving buttocks without a prosthesis, at night or if you do not use a prosthesis, while others need painkillers that are prescribed by a doctor / pain clinic. Neurontin, Tegretol and Rivotrill are among the most commonly used, but some have such strong and intense phantom pain that one must use the strongest painkillers available.
Where can you get help?
Do not burn inside with great pain. If you suffer from phantom pain, you should ask your GP to refer you to a pain clinic for a specialist consultation.
Or contact Momentum on tel. 40 00 43 60 or firstname.lastname@example.org and we will refer you so you get the help you need.
Alternatively, you can ask questions you have on Momentum’s page on Facebook and initiate dialogue there.
You can also contact us if you are a professional or relative of someone who has phantom pain. We are available.
THE ASSOCIATION OF AMPUTES, DYSMELISTS AND ORTHOSE USERS
PO Box 49 Skøyen
+47 400 04 360