Learn more about phantom pain, an imaginary but real complication after amputation

If amputation is performed, you may experience phantom pain; Pain that is real but occurs in a part of the body that has been severed. This disorder and complication may get better gradually, but some patients have to live with this pain for some reason. However, can phantom pain be cured? What really happens in the human body that causes phantom pain? How can it be that a member is cut off, but pain should be felt in the exact part that was cut? Are we dealing with a completely psychological disorder or does this disorder have a completely physical and visible origin?

BingMag.com Learn more about phantom pain, an imaginary but real complication after amputation

If amputation is performed, you may experience phantom pain; Pain that is real but occurs in a part of the body that has been severed. This disorder and complication may get better gradually, but some patients have to live with this pain for some reason. However, can phantom pain be cured? What really happens in the human body that causes phantom pain? How can it be that a member is cut off, but pain should be felt in the exact part that was cut? Are we dealing with a completely psychological disorder or does this disorder have a completely physical and visible origin?

Ambroise Pare, a French army surgeon, discovered and explained such a phenomenon for the first time. He, who lived in the 16th century, realized that phantom pain could occur after a complete or partial amputation of a limb. Silas Weir Mitchell, a famous World War II surgeon in the 19th century, was able to name this condition. Actually, the title of phantom pain was given by Mitchell.

According to published reports and articles, there is an 84% chance that phantom pain will appear after eight days of amputation. This number drops to 67% six months after amputation. In general, women are more prone to experience phantom pain than men. However, the occurrence of such a scary complication depends on various factors. The surgical technique for amputation, the type of anesthesia, the patient's stress level and other factors can determine the severity of phantom pain.

BingMag.com Learn more about phantom pain, an imaginary but real complication after amputation

Approximately eight out of every 10 amputations experience phantom pain. When patients have a limb amputation, they usually feel pain in the limb that is no longer connected to the body. This terrible feeling can be classified from chronic to acute. A person can feel phantom pain within a few seconds. Also, there are various reports that this pain can last for hours, days and even more. Of course, such a strange feeling is not only due to amputation surgery. A person may suddenly lose a finger or another part of his body due to inadvertent reasons. With all these interpretations, it should be claimed that phantom pain can be managed.

It is interesting to know that in the beginning it was thought that phantom pain is entirely the result of reasons related to psychological science. However, various studies have shown that this condition is related to a neurological problem. With the expansion of medical science, especially surgery and neuroscience, various parameters involved in the occurrence of phantom pain were discovered one after the other. For example, we can refer to the place of amputation. Or you can also refer to parameters such as age, gender and other things. In any case, phantom pain is a combination of psychological and physical causes. In the meantime, various treatment methods have been invented, which are not only limited to the treatment of phantom pain.

A person who is amputated for any reason, experiences several other experiences in addition to phantom pain.

He gets amputated for any reason, he experiences some other experiences besides phantom pain. For example, we can refer to phantom or imaginary emotions (Phantom Sensations) that after amputation, a person still imagines that a limb has not been removed from his body. In this case, the patient does not perceive any pain. People in this situation try to go about their routine life. This situation is completely temporary and finally the person comes to believe that the limb has been amputated.

There is another pain known as Residual Limb Pain. In this case, the patient feels a pain in a part of his body that is exactly the same part of the limb of the arm or leg. The cause of this pain is due to damage to the nerve in the same area or the nerve is under pressure in the end part of the organ. Usually, seven out of 10 people experience such pain.

The cause of phantom pain

BingMag.com Learn more about phantom pain, an imaginary but real complication after amputation

Phantom pain often occurs immediately after amputation. Generally, it takes three to six months for an amputation wound to heal. Phantom pain is generally experienced by the patient one month to one year later. Of course, the occurrence of phantom pain after limb amputation is not 100% certain; therefore, there is no requirement in this field that a person must experience phantom pain as a disorder after limb amputation. This complication is one of the rarest events that a human can experience. Experts believe that phantom pain is due to confusion in the messaging system of nerve cells, especially between the spinal cord and the brain. When amputation occurs in a part of the body, the nerve connections from the peripheral part to the brain still exist in their anatomical location. In this situation, the brain can misinterpret this neural information. In the same way, the brain receives or processes messages called pain sensation from the severed area, which has an external origin, but this event It should be reduced as soon as possible.

Although the cause of phantom pain is clear and simple due to a series of cause and effect events, the cause of pain in the remaining limb is not limited to a few simple reasons and is one of the causes of such Unpleasant experience can include the following:

  • bruising
  • bone infection or formation of small extra bones
  • nerve damage or inflammation
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  • Poor blood flow in the area
  • Poor and clumsy installation of prosthetic devices in the limb
  • Pressure injuries such as bedsores
  • Skin infections or wounds
  • >

It should be noted that the occurrence of phantom pain is not the same in all people applying for amputation. Some people have a much worse experience than others. While many people can quickly cope with such an annoying phenomenon. Despite these issues, the following factors can cause phantom pain:

  • angina (pain in the chest due to lack of oxygen to the heart)
  • changes in temperature or barometric pressure
  • Constipation
  • Shingles
  • Physical touch or sex
  • Smoking
  • Anxiety and stress
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Symptoms of phantom pain

BingMag.com Learn more about phantom pain, an imaginary but real complication after amputation

As mentioned earlier, phantom pain can For a short period of time, from a few seconds to a few days. During the first six months after amputation, the pain is intensified, but the frequency of occurrence of pain usually decreases with the passage of time. Usually, 8 out of 10 people still experience phantom pain even after two years of amputation. Symptoms of phantom pain include the following:

  • Pain or burning sensation
  • Pressure or pinching sensation
  • Itching or tingling sensation
It is understood that it no longer exists externally and has been cut off from the body during surgery.

How to diagnose phantom pain

A doctor or nurse can diagnose phantom pain by performing physical examinations and performing routine tests. to recognize easily. Of course, the exact understanding of the reason for the occurrence of this complication requires more research. For this reason, performing tests such as blood tests and imaging such as ultra sound can help with this goal.

How to treat phantom pain

BingMag.com Learn more about phantom pain, an imaginary but real complication after amputation

Cure for phantom pain has not been definitively discovered yet. According to the current recipes available in medical centers, for now, we can focus on reducing the symptoms of this condition. For this reason, drugs are prescribed to prevent the development of phantom pain symptoms. Medicines that include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or pain relievers
  • Antidepressants
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Beta blockers
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Injections

According to numerous researches, therapeutic procedures have been identified that can send electrical waves to the nerves, brain or send the spinal cord, it is helpful in reducing the sense of phantom pain. Currently, there are three treatment approaches with this method:

  • Nerve stimulation
  • Spinal cord stimulation
  • Electrical stimulation of the nerve in the following way Cutaneous (TENS)

mirror therapy; One of the innovative methods of scientists to treat phantom pain

BingMag.com Learn more about phantom pain, an imaginary but real complication after amputation

Different studies have shown that mirror therapy (Mirror Therapy) It can also help to reduce phantom pain. During the mirror therapy process, a person can see his healthy body through a mirror on the opposite side of his hand. In this situation, a person should do some exercises for at least 20 minutes every day. In fact, by doing this, cells called mirror neurons become more active. These neurons start working when a person is watching or observing the behavior of another person in front of him. In fact, the imitative behavior of humans is due to the activity of mirror neurons. Although the depth of the behavioral mechanism of mirror neurons has not yet been discovered, mirror therapy can be performed due to the presence of mirror neurons in order to reduce phantom pain. It suggests that there are actually two healthy organs. The brain gradually institutionalizes this information in the memory. For this reason, the patient has an urgent need to do exercises every day to reduce the feeling of phantom pain. As long as the brain does not think that a limb has been cut off from the body, the sensation of phantom pain usually does not occur. A physiotherapist can solve such a problem well in a patient. However, the patient's cooperation with the physiotherapist is also an extremely important factor.

BingMag.com Learn more about phantom pain, an imaginary but real complication after amputation

Other treatment methods There is phantom pain management, which is actually complementary methods. From this category of methods, the following factors can be mentioned:

  • Acupuncture: It is a therapeutic process in which the practitioner uses steel needles to plunge into the patient's skin. It is used to stimulate certain points in the body. The purpose of this activity is to reduce pain. Acupuncture was invented by Chinese doctors and is currently used all over the world for various therapeutic purposes.
  • Biofeedback: a mental-physical healing process It can strengthen mental and physical health. During a session of the biofeedback process, the therapist uses painless sensors to measure certain functions of the body. You can see the results on the screen. These body functions can be strengthened by using specific movements and activities. Finally, you will be able to make changes without using the tools of the biofeedback process. It is done on the nerves. Also, blood circulation in the amputated area is strengthened.
  • Mental exercises and meditation: To release worry and unhealthy thoughts, you can do mental exercises such as yoga or meditation. Nerve relaxation has a great benefit in reducing the sensation of phantom pain.

If nothing is done to reduce the sensation of phantom pain, this pain becomes a chronic experience and ultimately the quality of life of the person decreases and so on. It may be disturbed. For example, phantom pain affects a person's sleep cycle. Also, feelings such as anxiety or depression can be created in a person. Talking to a psychologist or therapist can help to improve a person's mental state.

Can phantom pain be prevented?

BingMag.com Learn more about phantom pain, an imaginary but real complication after amputation

This question has been formed for many researchers and many researches are still underway. According to some studies, the risk of phantom pain can be seriously reduced by using general anesthesia and spinal anesthesia techniques together during amputation surgery.

Scientists are trying to experiment with narcotic drugs and painkillers. Pain, help reduce the experience of phantom pain

Scientists are trying to help reduce the experience of phantom pain by experimenting on narcotic drugs and pain relievers. For example, injecting morphine and another drug called bupivacaine together has been extremely useful to prevent phantom pain. Research on other drugs is still ongoing.

Phantom pain improves over time. Finally, this unpleasant feeling will be removed from the person's mind forever. However, a person will naturally not enjoy his life while facing this painful feeling. By using different treatment methods as well as using different drugs, it is possible to make the patient feel less pain and unpleasant feeling. See your doctor if you experience any of the following:

  • Severe pain that interferes with daily activities or sleep.
  • Signs of infection such as fever. or redness in the remaining limb

When facing the doctor, you should ask him four important questions:

  • What treatment processes are beneficial to reduce pain?
  • How long will this pain last?
  • Should physiotherapy or mirror therapy be done?
  • Should we look for symptoms?
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