Lifestyle and home remediesBy Mayo Clinic staff
You may not have control over whether you develop phantom pain after surgery, but you can reduce your discomfort and improve your quality of life. One or more of these approaches may help you get through a flare-up of phantom pain:
- Look for distractions. Find activities that take your focus off the pain, such as reading or listening to music.
- Stay physically active. Get your exercise by doing activities that you enjoy, such as gardening, walking, swimming or cycling.
- Take your medications. Follow your doctor's directions in taking prescribed and over-the-counter pain medications. If you try herbal and other alternative medications, be sure to tell your doctor.
- Find ways to relax. Practice activities that reduce your emotional and muscular tension. Take a warm bath — not too hot, as heat may aggravate the pain. Lie down and follow helpful relaxation techniques, such as rhythmic breathing, meditation or visualization.
- Seek the support of other people. Find ways to get closer to others. Call friends, or join a support group or a group involved in your favorite hobby.
- Take care of your stump. Removing or putting on your prosthesis, massaging the stump, and applying TENS, cold or heat may reduce the pain.
Remember that managing phantom pain can make a big difference in how you feel. If one approach doesn't provide relief, try something else rather than give up.
- Pain: Hope through research. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/chronic_pain/detail_chronic_pain.htm. Accessed Aug. 11, 2011.
- Weeks SR, et al. Phantom limb pain: Theories and therapies. The Neurologist. 2010;16:277.
- Rothgangel AS, et al. The clinical aspects of mirror therapy in rehabilitation: A systematic review of the literature. International Journal of Rehabilitation Research. 2011;34:1.
- Portenoy RK, et al. Overview of cancer pain syndromes. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Aug. 1, 2011.
- Phantom pain: An update. Amputee Coalition. http://www.amputee-coalition.org/communicator/vol3no1pg3.html. Accessed Aug. 11, 2011.
- McNutt S. New paths in phantom limb pain treatment. Amputee Coalition of America. http://www.amputee-coalition.org/inmotion/mar_apr_07/phantom_treatment.html. Accessed Aug. 11, 2011.
- Casale R, et al. Phantom limb related phenomena and their rehabilitation after lower limb amputation. European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine. 2009;45:559.
- Viswanathan A, et al. Use of spinal cord stimulation in the treatment of phantom limb pain: Case series and review of the literature. Pain Practice. 2010;10:479.
- Ramchandran K, et al. Fast facts and concepts: Phantom limb pain #212. Journal of Palliative Medicine. 2010;13:1285.
- Treatment options: A guide for people living with pain. American Pain Foundation. http://www.painfoundation.org/learn/publications/treatment-options.html. Accessed Aug. 14, 2011.
- Acupuncture for pain. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/acupuncture/acupuncture-for-pain.htm. Accessed Aug. 11, 2011.