Phantom pain is pain that feels like it's coming from a body part that's no longer there. Doctors once believed this post-amputation phenomenon was a psychological problem, but experts now recognize that these real sensations originate in the spinal cord and brain.
Although phantom pain occurs most often in people who've had an arm or leg removed, the disorder may also occur after surgeries to remove other body parts, such as the breast, penis, eye or tongue.
For some people, phantom pain gets better over time without treatment. For others, managing phantom pain can be challenging. You and your doctor can work together to treat phantom pain effectively with medication or other therapies.
Oct. 27, 2011
- Pain: Hope through research. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/chronic_pain/detail_chronic_pain.htm. Accessed Aug. 11, 2011.
- Weeks SR, et al. Phantom limb pain: Theories and therapies. The Neurologist. 2010;16:277.
- Rothgangel AS, et al. The clinical aspects of mirror therapy in rehabilitation: A systematic review of the literature. International Journal of Rehabilitation Research. 2011;34:1.
- Portenoy RK, et al. Overview of cancer pain syndromes. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Aug. 1, 2011.
- Phantom pain: An update. Amputee Coalition. http://www.amputee-coalition.org/communicator/vol3no1pg3.html. Accessed Aug. 11, 2011.
- McNutt S. New paths in phantom limb pain treatment. Amputee Coalition of America. http://www.amputee-coalition.org/inmotion/mar_apr_07/phantom_treatment.html. Accessed Aug. 11, 2011.
- Casale R, et al. Phantom limb related phenomena and their rehabilitation after lower limb amputation. European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine. 2009;45:559.
- Viswanathan A, et al. Use of spinal cord stimulation in the treatment of phantom limb pain: Case series and review of the literature. Pain Practice. 2010;10:479.
- Ramchandran K, et al. Fast facts and concepts: Phantom limb pain #212. Journal of Palliative Medicine. 2010;13:1285.
- Treatment options: A guide for people living with pain. American Pain Foundation. http://www.painfoundation.org/learn/publications/treatment-options.html. Accessed Aug. 14, 2011.
- Acupuncture for pain. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/acupuncture/acupuncture-for-pain.htm. Accessed Aug. 11, 2011.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.