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Top 7 Tips To Treat And Prevent Phantom Limb Pain
By Raymond Lee
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It is one of the most mysterious phenomena in medicine. Virtually every person who undergoes an amputation feels sensation that seems to come from the missing limb. It is disturbing at first, but patients tend to get used to it over time. The sensations usually go away completely within a year. Far more troublesome is phantom limb pain, which ranges in intensity from annoying to unbearable. As many as two-thirds of all amputation patients develop this condition, particularly if they were having severe pain in the limb prior to surgery. Phantom link pain takes many forms. People who have experienced it describe the pain as burning, cramping, stabbing, shooting, aching or throbbing. It cannot yet explain what causes phantom limp pain. Here are some tips that you can consider to adopt to ease your discomfort.
- Use Your Imagination
A relaxation technique called imagery can help ease your discomfort. To begin, lie in bed or sit comfortably and close your eyes. Visualize an activity that you enjoyed before the amputation. For example, if you have lost part of a leg, envision yourself riding a bicycle while pedalling with both feet or sitting at the edge of a lake and dangling the missing foot in the water. If you have lost an arm, you might imagine yourself swimming or tossing a ball. Move the sound limb as if you were doing the activity, and visualize the motion of the missing limb.
- Soothe With Massage
Rubbing the end of the limb can help relieve the pain. It is recommended to adopt gentle massage for 5 to 10 minutes, twice a day. But do not be rough in the area of the surgical incision.
- Stay Comfortable
Different situations can aggravate phantom limb pain. For example, your pain may get worse with exposure to cold. If that is the case, cover the limb and keep it warm. Other circumstances can cause increased discomfort as well. For example, letting the limb hang, going to the bathroom, even yawning. You need to figure out what bothers you so that you can avoid it.
- Consider A Prescription
Certain prescription drugs normally used to treat other conditions can relieve phantom limb pain as well. Low doses of a tricyclic antidepressant often help. The muscle relaxant Baclofen and anti-convulsant drugs are also effective. Ask your doctor whether one of these may be rright for you.
- Keep It Under Wraps
Many people feels better to have the limb contained, even at night. There are several ways to do this. You can wear a rigid cast that is designed to be pulled over the limb, a “stump sock” that provides compression, or an elastic bandage that is wound around the limb in a figure-eight pattern. Ask your physician or physical therapist to make a recommendation.
- Train It
You may want to try rubbing the end of the limb with different fabrics so that it becomes accustomed to the sensations. Try bedsheets, towels, clothing, and other textures.
- Get Relief Over The Counter
For mild pain, over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and acetaminophen may help. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to recommend an appropriate product. If the medication does not work, or if your pain gets worse and you require a larger dose, let your doctor know.
Raymond Lee is one of the foremost experts in the health and fitness industry and is the Founder of Bodyfixes Group specializing in body health, muscle development and dieting. He is currently the author of the latest edition of "Neck Exercises and Workouts." Visit http://www.bodyfixes.com for more information.
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Article Submitted On: November 27, 2007