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Are there alternative therapies to treat phantom limb pain?

It’s thought that as many as 80 percent of all people with limb loss experience “phantom pain”. Phantom pain is felt from the  limb that is missing. This pain is thought to come from nerve injuries at the amputation site. Neuromas form at the ends of the injured nerve fibers and send out impulses of pain at any time. Some veterans with phantom limb pain find help with relaxation therapies such as deep abdominal breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and guided imagery.

Relaxation therapies have been shown to increase the brain’s morphine-like pain relievers, called endorphins and enkephalins, which are associated with a happy, positive feeling. These hormones can help relay “stop-pain” messages to the body. Other people believe that applying moist heat or massage to the limb helps to desensitize the nerve endings. In addition, a physical therapist may use ultrasound, TENS, pulsed galvanic stimulation, electro-acupuncture, and interferential stimulation to help ease the phantom limb pain.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.