Treatment Strategies and Effective Management of Phantom Limb–Associated Pain
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Purpose of Review
Phantom sensations are incompletely understood phenomena which take place following an amputation or deafferentation of a limb. They can present as kinetic, kinesthetic, or exteroceptive perceptions. It is estimated that phantom limb pain (PLP) affects anywhere from 40 to 80% of amputees.
Psychiatric illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and mood disorders have higher prevalence in amputees than in the general population. Pharmacologic treatment has been used as first-line therapy for amputees suffering from PLP with agents including gabapentinoids, amitriptyline, and other tricyclic anti-depressants, opioids, and local anesthetics. Non-invasive treatment modalities exist for PLP including sensory motor training, mirror visual therapy, and non-invasive neuromodulation. Non-invasive neuromodulation includes interventions like transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) and transcranial magnetic stimulation.
While many promising therapies for PLP exist, more clinical trials are required to determine the efficacy and protocols needed for maximum benefit in patients suffering from PLP.
KeywordsPhantom limb Phantom limb pain PLP Amputation Pain management
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
Ivan Urits, Danica Seifert, Allison Seats, Stephen Giacomazzi, Michael Kipp, Vwaire Orhurhu, and Omar Viswanath declare no conflict of interest. Alan D. Kaye discloses that he is on the Speakers Bureau for Depomed, Inc. and Merck.
Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent
This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.
Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance
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