Because the risk of developing phantom pain is higher for people who have experienced pain in the limb before amputation, some doctors recommend regional anesthesia (spinal or epidural) in the few hours or days leading up to amputation. This may reduce pain immediately following surgery and reduce the risk of lasting phantom limb pain.

Two drugs have shown promise in preventing phantom pain:

  • Calcitonin (Miacalcin). Researchers aren't sure why calcitonin — a hormone produced by the body that slows the rate at which your body breaks down bone — provides pain relief. You may receive this drug directly into a vein (intravenously) during the week after amputation. Possible side effects include nausea, vomiting and allergic reactions, including rashes, abdominal pain and swelling.
  • Ketamine (Ketalar). This anesthetic drug is sometimes given after surgery to help prevent phantom pain. Its side effects can include sedation, hallucinations and delirium.
Oct. 27, 2011