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8 Alternative Treatments + Massage for Phantom Pain Phenomena – Institute for Integrative Healthcare Studies

Summary

Learn about phantom pain and phantom limb syndrome, as well as 9 alternative and complementary practices (including massage therapy) that can be used to reduce emotional distress from this phenomena.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Phantom Pain Syndrome is pain experienced from a body part that is no longer present. (1) The nature of the pain can vary in intensity, frequency and duration. Patients have described the pain as shooting, stabbing, cramping, pins and needles, crushing, thr…….

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Learn about phantom pain and phantom limb syndrome, as well as 9 alternative and complementary practices (including massage therapy) that can be used to reduce emotional distress from this phenomena.


According to the Mayo Clinic, Phantom Pain Syndrome is pain experienced from a body part that is no longer present. (1) The nature of the pain can vary in intensity, frequency and duration. Patients have described the pain as shooting, stabbing, cramping, pins and needles, crushing, throbbing and/or burning.

Some patients have reported non-painful, yet abnormal sensations such as tingling, numbness and heavy pressure felt where the limb formally was located. These patients are said to have Phantom Limb Syndrome. Similar nervous system mechanisms are at play with both Phantom Pain and Phantom Limb Syndromes.

Interpreted Pain

Signals pertaining to pain travel from peripheral nerves through the spinothalamic spinal tract towards the thalamus portion of the brain. From the thalamus, these sensory signals are integrated with primary somatosensory cortex regions within the grey cerebral matter. How these are interpreted as pain depends upon many factors, notably Brodmann’s brain area #10 which is a significant brain portion within the frontal lobe aiding to help someone understand the nature of their pain. (2)

Doctors used to consider phantom pain and related sensations a psychogenic phenomenon. Upon examining imaging scans such as positron emission tomography (PET) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), neurological activity within the central nervous system pertaining to amputated regions displays positively.

Reasons for Amputation

There are two types of amputations described in medical literature.

  1. Traumatic amputation results in a limb or body part cut or torn off the body due to a serious accident to the body.
  2. Surgical amputation results in a limb or body part being removed surgically. Surgical amputations are categorized as types of upper limb or lower limb procedures. Double amputation involves the removal of limbs or body parts upon both sides of the body.

Cancer and severe infection can be potential causes for the need to amputate a limb or body part if tissue has been damaged beyond reasonable repair. Sarcomas, cancers that affect parenchymal organ tissue, can become so large and aggressive, making amputation the only viable option to save the patient.

Bacteria related to the Meningococcal genus as well as Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureas (MRSA) can decay organ tissue to the point amputation is necessary.

Children born without a limb or body part are said to have a congenital amputation. These children may be fitted with artificial limbs if deemed appropriate by their healthcare team.

According to Johns Hopkins, the majority of surgical amputations result from complications of vascular disease and similar conditions such as Diabetes Mellitus and Peripheral Arterial Disease. Chronic vascular problems undermine the body’s arterial and capillary delivery network depriving distal tissues of blood, resulting in tissue degeneration within the extremities. (3)

  1. Amputation procedures …….

    Source: https://www.integrativehealthcare.org/mt/8-alternative-treatments-massage-for-phantom-pain-phenomena/