Phantom Limb Pain
Over the years scientists have noted many complaints of a strange form of pain called phantom limb pain. This pain is strange because it is located in an appendage that no longer exists. By many of the amputees the pain is described as totally unbearable. For the amputee population this is a very real problem that definitely needs to be solved. Pain and other sensation in an amputated or absent limb, are well-known phenomena. Nearly all amputees experience vivid phantom limb (PL) sensations, and up to two-thirds of these patients experience phantom pain even 25 years after the loss of the limb (cite). The vivid experience of a PL often includes non-painful phantom sensations as, which are frequently reported in patients with phantom pain (cite).
Some amputees will not voluntarily mention phantom pain or sensations since they think that their mind is simply playing tricks on them. However, this pain actually means that the part of the brain, which has always felt that limb, is still reporting some sensations to the rest of the brain. What the thinking part of the brain knows (that the limb is gone) may be different from what the feeling part of the brain reports (that the nonexistent limb is being squeezed). Often phantom pain diminishes a lot in its severity over time. Many amputees report that it becomes much less frequent as time goes along; however, when it recurs it may be just as bothersome as when it was first experienced. There is tremendous variability of this phantom pain. It can be extremely unpleasant and even disabling for some amputees. It is complex, resistant to treatment and very frustrating to amputee and caregivers alike. These following studies demonstrates some of the findings about phantom limb!
C.M. Kooijman et al (2000), studied the factors associated with phantom pain and phantom sensation in upper limb amputees in the Netherlands. They studied the questionnaires of amputees, s...