Losing a limb can be difficult enough. However, a disturbing side effect that can make the situation even more stressful is phantom limb pain. This is when a person feels pain associated with a body part that's no longer there. It is believed this condition is caused by the nerves in the affected area continuing to send out impulses that make the brain think the limb is still present and active. If you are plagued by phantom limb pain, here are two ways to treat the problems.
This is a fairly new therapy that consists of freezing the nerves to stop them from communicating with the brain. Using imaging software, the doctor inserts a needle into the amputation point and blow cold argon gas onto the nerves for a period of time. The result is a decrease or elimination of nerve signaling from that area.
A small study involving 20 patients who underwent the therapy found it to be a fairly effective treatment. Most patients reported a significant reduction in pain scores (from 6.4 to 2.4 on a scale of 1 to 10) about 45 days after the treatment.
Researchers noted, though, that not everyone may experience a positive outcome from this treatment. It may be necessary to have the treatment done multiple times to obtain any notable relief. However, the side effects associated with it were minimal.
Mirror Box Therapy
Another option for treating phantom limb pain is mirror box therapy. This involves the uses of mirrors during physical therapy to create the optical illusion the limb is still where it should be. The purpose of this therapy is to alleviate the pain by reprogramming the brain.
It is believed that part of the reason why people may feel phantom pain is the leftover limb may be clenched into a painful position. The mirrors trick the brain into thinking the full limb is still there and, thus, causes it to relax that part of the body and reducing the cramping or paralysis that may be causing the discomfort.
Like cryoablation therapy, this treatment may not work in all cases. However, there are no side effects, so it doesn't hurt to give it a try.
There are many other ways to alleviate phantom limb pain, some of which may involve medication or psychological treatment. It's best to discuss the issue with your family doctor who can provide you with solutions that work best for your situation. Click to read more.