Most people experience some pain after undergoing surgery. It’s part of the healing process and generally subsides as your tissues repair themselves. However, it’s not that simple if you are recovering from an amputation.
After the initial post-surgical pain subsides, you may experience several types of sensations — some painful and unpleasant, others strange and disconcerting.
Types of Post Amputation Pain and Sensations
Sometimes a patient feels that a removed body part is still in place.
Patients experiencing this sensation report an actual feeling of pain, ranging from mild to severe, in the missing body part.
- Residual Limb Pain
This type of pain occurs in the part of the limb that’s left behind, often referred to as the stump, after the amputation.
Managing Post Amputation Pain
The success of treatment for post-amputation pain depends on your level of pain and the various mechanisms playing a role in causing the pain.
- Mirror box therapy
The patient actually watches in a mirror while receiving PT to re-map the brain’s neural pathways to register that the limb is no longer there.
- Local injection therapy
The physician injects a local pain-blocking agent at the amputation site. This can calm the painful signals sent by the nerve endings to the brain.
- Non-opiate analgesic
These prescription pain medications slow or limit how the painful nerves send signals to the brain.
- Deep brain stimulation
In this technique, a surgeon places tiny electrodes directly on the surface of the brain to help attenuate pain with electrical impulses.
- Nerve cuff stimulation
This technique involves placing a nerve stimulator on the nerves traveling to the amputated leg.
Treatments for Post Amputation Pain
The key is to seek treatment from a specialist and obtain a primary diagnosis. Post Amputation pain might be minor and easily ignored, or it can be excruciating to the point where it interferes with important daily activities, such as sleep. The pain might be short-lived, come and go, or become constant.
Early treatment by an experienced pain management expert can reduce the chances that the problem will develop into something more severe in the future.