Phantom pain is something that many amputees experience, and I’m no exception to the rule. For me there is a constant ache or throbbing in my arm that varies in intensity through the day. At it’s worst it feels like there is pressure squeezing my arm and I feel as if my hand is clenched tightly in a fist and I can’t open it. Every now and then I’ll feel a sharp, stabbing pain that lasts from less than a second to maybe three or four.
I’ve been taking 40mg of Nortryptline for the last couple of months, it was prescribed to help reduce the nerve pain and does a reasonable job, although I’m now trying to reduce the dosage since I’d rather not be taking any medication if I can help it.
It’s interesting that my arm feels most uncomfortable when I’m in a car, as a passenger or driving, and likewise at night when I go to bed. My best guess is that in both cases the rest of the body is pretty much resting and the pain in my arm then comes to forefront.
From reading around it seems people aren’t quite sure what the cause of phantom pain is or even how best to treat it. There are plenty of suggestions, but it seems it’s really down to finding something that works for the individual. I’m fortunate enough that the pain isn’t debilitating and I can get on with every day life and just put up with the annoyance coming from my arm, a bit like living with tooth ache. If it was my leg I can imagine it making it hard to use a prosthetic.
So my hunt is on for something that will help eliminate the phantom pain, I’ve been recommended self hypnosis…apparently it worked very well for one amputee. I’ll keep you posted as I try things out.
Laura Fisher says
Keiron I heard an interview on CBC with Jon Kabat Zinn in May and was amazed at what he had to say about using your mind to deal with pain. His Wiki entry http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jon_Kabat-Zinn
gives titles of his work and other places you may want to check out. If you want order a CD of the interview, you can order it here: http://www.cbc.ca/ideas/transcripts/index.html. The title of the program was “Healing through Mindfulness”.
Well done on sticking to the no meat plan, how is it going without chocolate??
I read only a couple of weeks ago about a study on the effectiveness of mirror therapy – where a mirror is used to make the brain see a limb where there isn’t one. The study said over 50% of people had a significant reduction in phantom limb pain (not sure if that was long term). Apparently it helps reprogram the neurons in the brain and remove pain triggers. Sorry I don’t have a link to what I read – but its Google-able I’m sure.
Okay, here’s one link… http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/en/pain/microsite/medicine2.html