After one of your limbs is amputated, you may feel as if the limb is still there. This is called phantom sensation. It may feel:
These sensations slowly get weaker and weaker. You should also feel them less often. They may not ever go away completely.
Pain in the missing part of the arm or leg is called phantom pain. It may feel like:
Phantom limb pain will lessen over time for most people.
Some things may make phantom pain worse:
Try to relax in a way that works for you. Do deep breathing, or pretend to relax the missing arm or leg.
Reading, listening to music, or doing something that takes your mind off the pain may help. You may also try taking a warm bath -- if your surgery wound is completely healed.
Ask your doctor if you can take acetaminophen (Tylenol), aspirin, ibuprofen (such as Advil or Motrin), or other drugs that can help with pain.
These things may also help lessen phantom pain:
Bang MS, Jung SH. Phantom limb pain. In: Frontera, WR, Silver JK, eds. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Hanley & Belfus; 2008:chap 104.
Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense. VA/DOD Clinical Practice Guide for Practice Guideline for Management for Rehabilitation of Lower Limb Amputation. January 2008. Accessed May 26, 2010.
Updated by: Dennis Ogiela, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon, Danbury Hospital, Danbury, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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