Phantom Limb Pain

new-phantom-limb-painA phantom limb is the sensation that an amputated or missing limb (even an organ, like the appendix) is still attached to the body and is moving appropriately with other body parts.

Approximately 60 to 80% of individuals with an amputation experience phantom sensations in their amputated limb, and the majority of the sensations are painful.

Amputated Limb

When a limb is amputated, many severed nerve endings are terminated at the residual limb. These nerve endings can become inflamed, and were thought to send anomalous signals to the brain. These signals, being functionally nonsense, were thought to be interpreted by the brain as pain.

Chronic Pain in the Limb

Phantom limb pain (PLP) is a complex phenomenon that includes a wide variety of symptoms ranging from tingling and itching to burning and aching:

  • Maladaptive changes in the primary sensory cortex after amputation
  • A conflict between the signals received from the amputated limb (proprioception) and the information provided by vision that serves to send motor commands to the missing limb
  • Vivid limb position memories that emerge after

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