Phantom Pain Treatment Options

Phantom Pain Treatment Options

Phantom limb pain is highly prevalent among people suffering from a loss of limb. In fact, phantom limb pain affects about 60-85% of amputee patients. Undergoing an amputation is already a very difficult event to undergo. This event is made worse after the procedure when the amputee realizes they are suffering from phantom limb pain. Phantom limb pain is one of the most difficult types of pain to endure because it does not make sense to the patient.


           They are feeling an immense amount of pain in a part of their body that no longer exists. As a result, many patients suffering from phantom limb pain suffer from a diminished quality of life and feel as though there is no hope for ever feeling better. Fortunately, Chicago pain management doctors have a variety of ways to help those suffering from phantom limb pain.

Nerve Blocks

           Peripheral and sympathetic nerve blocks can help to reduce or eliminate the pain felt by phantom limb pain sufferers. Peripheral nerve blocks are a type of regional anesthesia in which the nerves in a certain area are blocked from transmitting messages to the brain. Sympathetic nerve blocks are injected near the spine. Nerve blocks are an excellent treatment that can be performed to help minimize pain in those who have undergone an amputation.


Spinal Cord Stimulation

           Spinal cord stimulation is another option for those suffering from phantom limb pain. Spinal cord stimulation works by blocking pain signals before they are able to reach the pain. Therefore, the location of amputation will still send off pain signals. However, they never reach the brain.



           Oftentimes, a combination of medication with other therapies is used for those suffering from phantom limb pain. Medications such as over the counter pain relievers, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, narcotics, and anesthetics can all help to reduce the amount of pain a person feels. However, most people try to keep medication to a minimum as some people can become dependent on certain medications. 

Mirror Box

           Mirror box is a fairly simple treatment for those suffering from phantom limb pain. While it is not effective for all people, those people it does work to express significant pain reduction without any risk that may be present in other treatment options. A mirror box is simply a box that has a mirror on one or both sides of the box. There are two openings, one for the limb that is still attached, and one for the limb that has been amputated. The patient performs various exercises with the intact limb while visualizing the amputated limp doing the same. This can help some people experience relief in phantom pain.



           Surgery is only valid for certain cases. Brain stimulation is the most common form of surgery for those suffering from phantom pain. A current is delivered directly to the brain. This is supposed to help block pain signals from reaching the brain. An MRI is used to correctly position the electrodes. While brain stimulation is not approved specifically for phantom limb pain, it has shown promising results. 


Pain doctors at the Chicago pain medicine center are highly skilled at administering a variety of effective treatment options to remedy various painful conditions. Pain treatments include both cutting edge and more traditional options.