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Phantom Limb Pain

offered in Scottsdale, Mesa and Phoenix, AZ

Phantom Limb Pain

Phantom limb pain is a debilitating and often misunderstood condition that affects many individuals who have undergone amputation. At Integrated Pain Consultants in Scottsdale, Mesa, and Phoenix, Arizona, Nikesh Seth, MD, and the pain management specialists understand how uncomfortable and isolating this complex condition can feel. That’s why they invest in cutting-edge treatments and procedures to uncover the source of your pain and improve your quality of life. Call or schedule an appointment online to learn more.

Phantom Limb Pain Q & A

What is phantom limb pain?

Phantom limb pain is a complex sensation that can occur in the area of a limb that’s no longer there. If you lose a limb or undergo amputation, phantom limb pain is an uncomfortable reminder of the loss. The pain can range from mild to intense and isn’t always proportionate to the extent of the amputation or the severity of the injury.

People often mistake phantom limb pain for residual limb pain, which develops in the remaining portion of the limb. However, the latter typically resolves once the injury fully heals. Treating phantom limb pain, on the other hand, can be more challenging and may require a combination of treatment approaches.

What does phantom limb pain feel like?

Phantom limb pain varies. It may feel like a stabbing, burning, or itching sensation. Some people experience a dull ache in the affected area that can be constant or intermittent. Others report sensations of movement or the feeling that the amputated limb is still there. 

The pain typically develops within six months of losing a limb. However, it can begin several months or years later.

Is phantom limb pain a physical or psychological issue?

Phantom limb pain is physical and psychological. Experts believe it occurs when nerve signals between the brain and spinal cord become mixed up, leading to sensations in areas that no longer exist. While the pain may stem from the brain’s perception of nerve signals, it’s very real and can disrupt your daily life.

If I have phantom limb pain, will it go away naturally?

Phantom limb pain can improve over time and may resolve on its own, but that isn’t always the case. If you have pain that interferes with your daily activities or ability to sleep, it’s time to seek professional care.

How is phantom limb pain diagnosed?

Diagnosing phantom limb pain can be a complicated process. Along with a physical exam and medical history review, your provider may check for signs of redness, bruising, and infection to rule out residual limb pain. Additional tests you may need include blood work, X-rays, and ultrasounds. 

How do you treat phantom limb pain?

Integrated Pain Consultants takes a multifaceted approach to treating phantom limb pain. Depending on the location and severity of your symptoms, your pain management specialist may recommend:

  • Medication management
  • Spinal cord stimulation
  • Joint or epidural injections
  • Chiropractic care
  • Lifestyle changes (weight loss, smoking cessation, etc.)

Phantom limb pain demands specialized care from an experienced pain management provider. To take the first step in achieving lasting relief from pain, call Integrated Pain Consultants today or schedule an appointment online.