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Phantom limb pain

Amputation - phantom limb

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Description

After one of your limbs is amputated, you may feel as if the limb is still there. This is called phantom sensation. You may feel:

What to Expect

These feeling slowly get weaker and weaker. You should also feel them less often. They may not ever go away completely.

Pain in the missing part of the arm or leg is called phantom pain. You may feel:

Some things may make phantom pain worse, such as:

Self-care

Try to relax in a way that works for you. Do deep breathing or pretend to relax the missing arm or leg.

Reading, listening to music, or doing something that takes your mind off the pain may help. You may also try taking a warm bath if your surgery wound is completely healed.

Ask your health care provider if you can take acetaminophen (Tylenol), aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), or other medicines that help with pain.

The following may also help lessen phantom pain.

Related Information

Leg or foot amputation
Foot amputation - discharge
Leg amputation - discharge
Leg or foot amputation - dressing change
Bathroom safety for adults
Surgical wound care - open
Preventing falls
Diabetes - foot ulcers
Managing your blood sugar
Controlling your high blood pressure

References

Bang MS, Jung SH. Phantom limb pain. In: Frontera WR, Silver JK, Rizzo TD, eds. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 107.

Dinakar P. Principles of pain management. In: Daroff RB, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, Pomeroy SL, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 54.

Nikolajsen L, Springer JS, Haroutiunian S. Phantom limb pain. In: Benzon HT, Rathmell JP, Wu CL, Turk DC, Argoff CE, Hurley RW, eds. Practical Management of Pain. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2014:chap 26.

Waldman SD. Phantom limb pain. In: Waldman SD, ed. Atlas of Common Pain Syndromes. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 103.

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Review Date: 4/30/2018  

Reviewed By: Amit M. Shelat, DO, FACP, Attending Neurologist and Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurology, SUNY Stony Brook, School of Medicine, Stony Brook, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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