An Examination of Phantom Limb Pain Treatments

Date of Award

Summer 6-28-2023

Document Type

Non Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Orthotics and Prosthetics




One of the most prevalent issues for amputees is phantom limb pain. Phantom limb pain is the phenomenon where a post-surgery amputation patient still feels sensations in the area where their limb used to be. This condition affects 60%-90% of amputees, and can be difficult to treat. This is because not much is known about the origins of the condition, despite there being records of it dating back to the 16th century, although there are theories such as it having to do with cortical reorganization. Despite this, various treatments have been developed to help alleviate the condition’s symptoms. Three examples of such treatments include medications, mirror therapy, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). Commonly used medications include opioids among others, as there is no dedicated drug for phantom limb pain. Mirror therapy involves using a mirror to simulate the presence of the missing limb by reflecting the intact one in its place, has been shown to be effective at decreasing the pain felt by amputees . (Anaforoğlu Külünkoğlu et al., 2019). TENS involves delivering mild electrical impulses to the skin in order to stimulate the nerves and relieve pain. . All of these treatment options have their merits, but there remains the question of what the best option for amputees is. The purpose of this literature review is to examine the aforementioned non-invasive treatment options, comparing their effectiveness on relieving phantom limb pain.

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