Phantom Limb Pain

Person wrapped with clear plastic bag experiencing phantom limb pain

Invisible Sensations

A phantom limb is the sensation that an amputated limb is still attached. Phantom limb occurs after leg amputation in 98% of patients! The experience may last for years and may even be painful. Sometimes the pain is worsened by anxiety or stress. There is no known cause or treatment; it usually stops spontaneously over time.

Phantom sensations may even occur after amputation of breasts, teeth or even eyes! For instance, some patients who undergo a mastectomy (surgical removal of a breast) report experiencing a phantom breast, or the sensation of still having the amputated breast present. For amputated limbs, the sensation may feel as if the missing limb is shorter or in a distorted position. Phantom sensations have also been reported in transexuals who experience phantom genitals after gender reassignment surgery.

Because the cause of phantom limb is not known, there is no treatment that cures the condition. Treatment approaches that have shown to be helpful include: antidepressants, acupuncture, hypnosis and biofeedback. It can be very debilitating for these patients to lead a depressive-free life while experiencing phantom sensations; imagine having a limb amputated and then feeling as if your limb is still there, but also accompanied by pain!

How would you feel? Imagine the depressing thoughts and suicidal ideations that patients experience while battling phantom limb pain! This is why we must come together and support each other through all our difficulties and struggles!

The DSM Ready Movement is about understanding and caring for each other!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

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