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How to Deal with Problematic Symptoms and Discomfort
Common among amputees, phantom limb pain occurs when pain, discomfort or any other type of negative sensation stems from a lost limb. It has the severity to become a chronic condition for some, while affecting others only on occasion. Phantom limb pain is linked to a person’s brain and nervous system, which remaps itself and associates a missing part with another part of the body. It also has been linked to damaged nerves near the site of an amputation – another common cause. Fortunately, there are a handful of ways to cope with and treat the symptoms of phantom limb pain.
1. Take Medication
As far as medications go, there are many different kinds that can help treat even the most painful symptoms of phantom limb pain. Acetaminophen, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, narcotic pain medications, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, beta-blockers and muscle relaxants are all options worth exploring if your doctor advises this route. It’s important to have an open dialogue with your health care provider about the possible side effects of each medication, in addition to discussing which ones work the best with others.
2. Undergo Nerve Cuff Stimulation
Nerve cuff stimulation manipulates the nerves that travel to the amputated limb. Only a centimeter long, the nerve stimulator looks like the wrapper of a straw, with an electrode inside that encases the actual nerve. Those who suffer from phantom limb pain are able to activate the cuff on the nerve ending thanks to a small wireless remote control. If they start to feel any pain or problematic symptoms, the press of a button delivers electrical stimulation to replace the pain sensations traveling to the brain.
3. Try Mirror Therapy
Created by a physician who studied the use of mirrors to treat phantom limb pain for Iraq war veterans, mirror therapy is a simple technique that yields successful results. A patient undergoing this treatment must sit in front of a mirror that faces the matching limb that remains, moving that limb and watching his or her reflection in the mirror while doing so. This resolves the visual-proprioceptive dissociation in the brain that is all too common in those suffering from phantom limb pain, and is a great method for those that do not want to use medication or deal with surgery.
4. Opt for Physical Therapy
In order for phantom limb pain to be prevented, it must first be managed. Seeking out a physical therapist to help with flare-ups and symptoms is a smart choice, especially if the pain comes and goes occasionally. In addition to electrical stimulation, physical therapists can utilize manual therapy in the form of a massage and manipulation of the affected area. Stump care, prosthetic fittings and proper use trainings are also methods that will help prevent further phantom limb pain, in addition to desensitization and graded motor imagery-movement imagery training.
5. Receive Injections
A non-invasive technique for treating phantom limb pain comes in the form of injections. Pain-killing medications can be administered this way, injecting them directly into the residual limb for relief and decreased discomfort. Local anesthetics can also be injected in the same way to alleviate symptoms, which causes complete numbness to the area. Steroid injections may be given to a patient who suffers from pain, inflammation and many of the other symptoms that come with phantom limb pain.
Pain Management in New Jersey
Phantom limb pain may not seem apparent to anyone else, but any man or woman who has it knows that the symptoms prevail all too well when the condition begins to act up. If you are experiencing phantom limb pain and would like to alleviate your symptoms as soon as possible, contact Premier Pain Centers to schedule an appointment today.
As a comprehensive center for treatment of both acute and chronic pain, our team of board certified pain management specialists have been trained in the most up-to-date and successful pain management methods, and are eager to take care of anyone who is currently experiencing symptoms and discomfort. Contact our office at 732-380-0200 for more information today.