Current Issue - - Vol 7 Issue 3


  1. 2004;7;365-375Managing Phantom Pain
    An Invited Review
    Laxmaiah Manchikanti, MD, and Vijay Singh, MD.

Since the first medical description of post-amputation phenomena reported by Ambrose Paré, persistent phantom pain syndromes have been well recognized. However, they continue to be difficult to manage. The three most commonly utilized terms include phantom sensation, phantom pain, and stump pain.

Phantom limb sensation is an almost universal occurrence at some time during the first month following surgery. However, most phantom sensations generally resolve after two to three years without treatment, except in the cases where phantom pain develops. The incidence of phantom limb pain has been reported to vary from 0% to 88%. The incidence of phantom limb pain increases with more proximal amputations. Even though phantom pain may diminish with time and eventually fade away, it has been shown that even two years after amputation, the incidence is almost the same as at onset. Consequently, almost 60% of patients continue to have phantom limb pain after one year. In addition, phantom limb pain may also be associated with multiple pain problems in other areas of the body. The third symptom, stump pain, is located in the stump itself.

The etiology and pathophysiological mechanisms of phantom pain are not clearly defined. However, both peripheral and central neural mechanisms have been described, along with superimposed psychological mechanisms.

Literature describing the management of phantom limb pain or stump pain is in its infancy. While numerous treatments have been described, there is little clinical evidence supporting drug therapy, psychological therapy, interventional techniques or surgery.

This review will describe epidemiology, etiology and pathophysiological mechanisms, risk factors, and treatment modalities. The review also examines the effectiveness of various described modalities for prevention, as well as management of established phantom pain syndromes.

Keywords: Phantom pain, phantom sensation, stump pain, drug therapy, neural blockade