What is phantom limb pain?

What is phantom limb pain?

Phantom limb pain is pain felt in the area where a limb has been amputated. Phantom limb pain can be mild to extremely painful. In some cases, phantom limb pain can be disabling and can lead to a lifelong struggle with chronic pain. Phantom limb sensations usually will disappear or decrease over time. When phantom limb pain continues for more than 6 months, the prognosis for spontaneous improvement is poor.

What causes phantom limb pain?

Although the limb is no longer there, the nerve endings at the site of the amputation continue to send pain signals to the brain that make the brain think the limb is still there. Sometimes, the brain memory of pain is retained and is interpreted as pain regardless of signals from injured nerves.

What are the symptoms of phantom limb pain?

In addition to pain in the phantom limb, some people experience other sensations such as tingling, cramping, heat, and cold in the portion of the limb that was removed. Any sensation that the limb could have experienced prior to the amputation may be experienced in the amputated phantom limb.