Understanding Phantom Limb Pain After Amputation

Serious injuries may always affect a person’s livelihood, but few personal injuries are as challenging as the loss of a limb. These types of injuries affect a person for his or her entire life and physical and psychological complications can follow.

Phantom Limb Pain from a Medical Standpoint

One of the complications following amputation is phantom limb pain, a condition where amputation patients feel pain where an arm or leg used to be. Doctors used to consider phantom limb pain a psychological issue, which meant that they did not believe the patient to be in any physical pain.

Today, however, doctors view the condition as a neurological disorder arising from the nerves at the place of amputation, communicating through the spinal cord to the brain. This remaining stump is basically sending false signals to the brain in response to a lost limb.

This change in classification means that doctors now recognize that amputation patients are actually feeling throbbing, stabbing, or burning sensations in the area of a lost limb rather than just imagining it.

Ways to Rehabilitate Phantom Limb Pain

There are remedies to combat phantom limb pain after amputation. These may include:

  • Mirror box therapy. This medical process involves a patient observing him or herself in a mirror while undergoing physical therapy after amputation. The thought behind mirror box therapy is that the brain will rewire the fact that a limb is gone, getting rid of related pain problems.
  • Nerve cuff stimulation. A nerve stimulator makes contact with nerves on the amputation site to send “positive” signals to the brain rather than “negative” sensations.
  • Prescription medications. Prescribed drugs such as antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and pain medications may help interrupt pain signals causing phantom limb pain.
  • Pain reliever injected at the amputation site. Pain reliever can interrupt the signals sending pain to the brain.
  • Brain stimulation therapy. Patients will have electrodes placed over their heads. This will send electrical impulses to interrupt the phantom limb pain signals.
  • Acupuncture at the site of the pain.
  • Surgery, in rare circumstances. Sometimes additional surgery at the site of the amputation might provide relief for phantom limb pain.

These medical practices may help rehabilitate or ease phantom limb pain in patients but they often come with ongoing medical expenses.

Phantom limb pain may also lead to psychological effects and challenges, such as depression. Amputation patients may have anxiety over phantom limb pain, in fear that the pain they are feeling is not indeed real. Cases such as these require additional therapy or medication, which will add to treatment costs.

Phantom Limb Pain Stemming from Negligence

A person who lost a limb due to a negligent party may be entitled to compensation for damages and lost income and should contact an experienced attorney.

After contacting an attorney, a person experiencing phantom limb pain caused by negligence will be able to file a claim against the person responsible for the injury. The attorney will work with the client to obtain evidence including medical records, receipts for expenses, ways the responsible party acted negligently, and more.

After filing a claim, an attorney and the responsible party’s insurer will likely sit down to discuss any demands. The parties may negotiate a potential settlement. An attorney will be able to provide explanations during the often times challenging legal process that will unfold at this point.

If parties cannot reach a settlement, an injury lawyer in Nashville may file a lawsuit on the patient’s behalf and ultimately go to trial. The attorney will then provide evidence of negligent actions to the court, which may result in compensation for damages stemming from amputations and phantom limb pain.

Contact our attorneys today at Larry R. Williams for assistance in the case for you or a loved one’s phantom limb case.