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Phantom pain

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From MayoClinic.com 

Missing a limb may mean you experience pain that's just as real as if you still had the limb. Phantom limb pain, stump pain and phantom limb sensation describe the feelings of people who are missing a limb or part of a limb:

  • Phantom limb pain. This pain feels as if it's occurring in the amputated limb.
  • Stump (residual limb) pain. This is discomfort at the surgery site.
  • Phantom limb sensation. This is the feeling that the missing body part is still there. It may involve uncomfortable sensations such as burning, tingling and itching.

It's common for people who have had a limb removed to experience phantom pain. Stump pain occurs in many people who have phantom pain and may be related to phantom pain. Treatments for phantom pain may involve medications or other therapies.

Signs and symptoms

Doctors once believed that phantom pain affects only people who have had a limb amputated. However, some people born without a limb may feel this type of pain — although phantom limb sensation may be more likely in people born without a limb.

Symptoms of phantom pain include pain, discomfort or sensation in a limb that doesn't exist. The type of pain is often similar to the pain that was felt in the limb before amputation. Phantom pain is more common after the removal of an arm or a leg, but can also occur after the removal of other parts of the body, such as the breast, penis, eye or tongue.

People who experience phantom pain usually can't predict what type of pain will occur, when an episode will occur, how intense it will be or how long it will last.

Some people find that certain circumstances may trigger phantom pain:

  • Changes in weather

  • Pressure on the portion of limb that remains

  • Emotional stress

  • Fatigue

Phantom pain often begins within a few days after surgery. Some people find that phantom pain and sensations decrease over time, whereas others experience them for many years. Pain that has gone untreated for more than a year tends to be more difficult to treat.


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