Phantom limb Pain
A phantom limb is the sensation that an amputated or missing limb (even an organ, like the appendix)
is still attached to the body and is moving appropriately with other body parts. 2 out of 3 combat
veterans report this feeling. Approximately 60 to 80% of individuals with an amputation experience phantom
sensations in their amputated limb, and the majority of the sensations are painful. Phantom sensations
may also occur after the removal of body parts other than the limbs, e.g. after amputation of the breast,
extraction of a tooth (phantom tooth pain) or removal of an eye (phantom eye syndrome). The missing limb
often feels shorter and may feel as if it is in a distorted and painful position. Occasionally, the pain
can be made worse by stress, anxiety, and weather changes. Phantom limb pain is usually intermittent. The
frequency and intensity of attacks usually decline with time.
A slightly different sensation known as phantom pains can also occur in people who are born without limbs
and people who are paralyzed. Phantom pains occur when nerves that would normally innervate the missing
limb cause pain. It is often described as a burning or similarly strange sensation and can be extremely
agonizing for some people, but the exact sensation differs widely for individuals. Other induced sensations
include warmth, cold, itching, squeezing, tightness, and tingling.