How to deal with Phantom Limb Syndrome?
Windowofworld.com – Phantom limb syndrome is a condition when there is ongoing pain, itching, tingling, or numbness in the amputated part of the body. Phantom limb syndrome is estimated to occur in 60-80% of people who have had amputations.
After undergoing an amputation in the foot or hand, a person may still be able to feel pain in the missing body part. The duration of pain in each person is different, it can be several hours, days, or months. In fact, some have experienced this complaint for years.
Causes of Phantom Limb Syndrome
Until now, the cause of phantom limb syndrome syndrome is still not clearly known. However, this condition is thought to occur due to the formation of persistent pain stimulation in the part of the body that has been amputated due to nerve damage in that part.
Apart from the emergence of persistent pain stimuli, phantom limb syndrome is also thought to occur due to changes in the nerves and brain that regulate and receive pain stimuli after the body has amputated.
Sometimes, the pain or other sensations that occur in phantom limb syndrome can feel more severe due to several factors, namely:
- Touches on amputated body parts
- Smoking habit
- Changes in air temperature, for example air temperature to be cold or hot
- Poor blood flow to the amputated part of the body
- Swelling or excessive pressure on the amputated part of the body
- Infections, such as shingles
How to Overcome Phantom Limb Syndrome?
In some people, the pain due to phantom limb syndrome can decrease or subside by itself over time after amputation. However, if the pain does not go away or it gets worse, then this condition should be seen by a doctor.
To overcome phantom limb syndrome, your doctor can work on the following treatment steps:
1. Provision of medicines
Actually there is no specific treatment that can cure phantom limb syndrome. However, doctors can provide medicines to ease pain so that patients feel more comfortable and can return to their activities.
Medications that can be given by doctors to treat phantom limb syndrome include NSAIDs or opioids anti-pain medications, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and local anesthetics.
2. Mirror therapy
Mirror therapy is done by placing or confronting a mirror to a healthy limb, then the doctor or physiotherapist will ask the patient to move both limbs (both normal and amputated).
Some phantom limb syndrome sufferers feel improvement in symptoms after undergoing mirror therapy. However, the effectiveness and benefits of mirror therapy as a treatment for pain complaints after amputation are still further investigated.
Physiotherapy in phantom limb syndrome patients is done to prevent stiffness in the amputated joint, increase blood circulation, and prevent contraction of muscle tissue (muscle atrophy).
When undergoing physiotherapy, the doctor will also usually help patients to be able to return to their activities and work through occupational therapy.
4. Nerve stimulation therapy
This therapy works by sending electrical signals and stimulating nerves that are disturbed in the amputated part of the body, so that it can inhibit or reduce pain.
In addition, nerve stimulation therapy can also be done on the spinal cord or in the brain to reduce pain due to phantom limb syndrome.
One factor that makes phantom limb syndrome difficult to improve is stress and depression. For this reason, patients who experience phantom limb syndrome after amputation are advised to undergo psychotherapy and counseling.
Through psychotherapy, patients will be trained to deal with stress and divert attention by carrying out certain activities, such as reading, listening or playing music, and painting, to alleviate complaints that arise.
After having an amputation, it’s important to get monitoring and undergo a series of treatments from your doctor so that your condition can improve.
If the phantom limb syndrome complaint does not go away within a few months after you undergo an amputation, this complaint should be examined by a neurologist so that it can be treated appropriately.