Relief from Pain

For the first few days after the operation, your phantom limb will probably be painful. In time, phantom sensations and pain generally become less intense and less frequent. If you are tired, upset or run down, or the weather is oppressive, or the prosthesis is ill-fitting, the phantom limb may annoy you. So it is a good idea to look after yourself, keep fairly active and make sure that your limb is well-fitting.

Some amputees experience varying degrees of pain, for which you should seek medical advice. Some may find relief from painkillers.

The following suggestions may also help:

  • Wrap your residual limb in a warm, soft fabric, such as a towel. The warmth will sometimes increase circulation. Poor circulation is thought to be one cause of phantom pain.
  • Mentally exercise the limb that is not there in the area that is painful.
  • Mentally relax the missing limb and its residual portion.
  • Do some mild overall exercise to increase circulation.
  • Exercise the residual limb.
  • Tighten muscles in the residual limb, then release them slowly.
  • Put Gladwrap or a shrinker sock on. If you have your prosthesis, put it on and take a short walk.
  • If you have pain with the prosthesis on, take it and the prosthetic sock off and put them back on after a few minutes. Sometimes the residual limb is being pinched and changing the way it is on will relieve the pressure on that nerve.
  • Change positions. If you are sitting, move around in your char, or stand up to let the blood get down into your residual limb.
  • Soak in a warm bath or use a shower massage or spa pool on your residual limb. A hot tub is reported to do wonders.
  • Massage your residual limb with your hands or better yet, have someone else massage it while you try to relax your entire body.
  • Keep a diary of when pain is most severe. This can help you and your doctor identify recurring causes.
  • Wrap residual limb in a heating pad.
  • Tap the end of your residual limb with your fingers.
  • Some people find help through self-hypnosis, biofeedback and chiropractice. If you have not found relief through any home remedies and the pain is not being controlled through normal medication, a pain centre should be considered.

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