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Is it normal for me to feel pain in my amputated limb?

It is quite normal to feel pain in an amputated limb. In fact, this condition is more common than previously thought. The sensation of pain in an amputated limb is often referred to as “phantom pain”. It may feel like cramping, aching, burning, or piercing. This pain can be severe in a small percentage of people, but it also can be treated with medication and rehabilitation techniques. The longer you had pain in your limb before surgery, the more likely you will feel phantom pain afterward. Fortunately, the pain usually decreases with time.

For years, it was thought that phantom pain was “just in your head.” But experiencing phantom pain is actually the norm, rather than the exception. Over 80 percent of people who lost a limb in a recent survey reported feeling phantom pain. However, the great majority of those who responded to this survey were also afraid to tell their doctors about their phantom pain, for fear that the doctor would think they were insane. This fear is common, and can prevent  someone from seeking help in treatment. While some amount of phantom and residual limb pain is normal, if it interferes with your sleep or daily function, or does not decrease over time, you should report it to your doctor.

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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.