Phantom pain can occur when a limb is lost to accident or surgery. This may, for example, be an amputated leg or arm, but also even a drawn molar. The pain feels as if the limb is still present. External causes can affect pain as cold and wet weather or stress. But what exactly is the cause of pain is unknown. In any event, plays an altered function in the brains a role. But other causes may be possible where several theories exist. There is, moreover, a therapy for the control of phantom pain.
Manifesting phantom pain
Phantom limb pain sometimes occurs already within the first twenty-four hours after the operation. In other patients, it may take two weeks, but it also happens that the pain occurs only after years. Usually, phantom limb pain manifests itself occasionally where the severity and the frequency may be very different. The pain often goes paroxysmally at intervals of days or months but can take up to a year. Maintaining the pain can range from seconds to hours. The pain may also occur chronically.
Each body a brain region
Phantom pain is probably caused by the brain area, which the amputated body part originally corresponded, is still active and interprets the body is still there. In fact, our brains is a field for each part of the body.
Worse by stress and bad weather
Phantom pain can get worse if a body part is touched located near the area of the brain close to the original area of the amputated limb. As well as other types of pain can worsen phantom pain associated with stress. Therefore, especially immediately after surgery a good night’s sleep is important and should be attempted later stress prevention. The pain may be worse in cold and wet weather which there is no good explanation. One explanation could be that increases the electrical charge to bad weather which the nervous system is more sensitive.
Possible causes of phantom pain
While giving the causes of phantom pain are not yet clear to (2016), there are still several theories as possible explanations for the origin.
Any cut nerves
Nerves are severed during amputation. However, it may be that the relay function of the nerves in the brains is still present, so the brains as before continue to receive incentives.
It could also be that stored the memory how felt the pain when the body was still there, and from there phantom pain occurs.
Reorganization Trouble in the brains
One theory is that there is some rearrangement in the brains must take place after the amputation of a limb. It can not go wrong with the brain areas which each have their task.
Treatments for phantom pain
Phantom pain is very difficult to treat. In many patients, the pain after itself over timeless. However, there are few treatments that are applied in the hope of reaching result, such as:
- Blocking the nerve via injections.
- Use of drugs against nerve pain.
- Removal of the nerve endings in the stump.
- Undergoing hypnotherapy.
- Psychological counseling of the patient.
- Pulse Therapy which the nerves of feeling less able to transmit pain.
- Therapy against stress and depression.
- Applying acupuncture.
- Prevention of pain is building up memory before and during the operation. (More medications)
Mirror Therapy Ramachandran
Therapy for Phantom pain fights with the so-called mirror therapy that addresses the plasticity of the brains. Mirror therapy was developed in 1996 by the Indian origin American neurologist Vilayanur Ramachandran. In the Netherlands, the therapy is still rarely used. In phantom pain in the arm, the patient must lay his arm in front of a mirror which is mounted in a box. Then, the arm should be moved where it looks like the fantoomarm moves so that the brains “think” that the arm is back to the body and functioning again. Therapists who work with that method are aware continue regular, and prolonged exercise is necessary. A major benefit of the therapy is that it is a safe, simple and inexpensive method of treatment which the patient as much as he wants to practice at home. Patients need open to the therapy because they have to imagine that the arm in the mirror moves the amputated arm. That attention and concentration can not be raised by anyone.
Phantom pain is not a blunt pain
Phantom pain should not be confused with dull pain. Stump pain is a pain in the stub portion, so the portion of the body part that is still present. At stump pain, there may be a poor blood circulation with a burning and tingling effect. Massaging or contrast baths with hot and cold water can stimulate blood flow.
In addition to poor circulation, there may be spasms and twitching. It can also provide massage and may result stretching exercises and techniques to help relax the muscles. A third possible cause of stump pain is a neuroma which refers to the uncontrolled growth of cells at the end of a severed nerve in the stub area. A neuroma can be removed surgically or off with dope.