Phantom Limb Pain

After one of your limbs is amputated, you may feel as if the limb is still there. This is called phantom sensation. It may feel:

Tingly

Prickly

Numb

Hot or cold

Like your missing toes or fingers are moving

Like your missing limb is still there, or is in a funny position

Like your missing limb is getting shorter. This is called telescoping.

These sensations slowly get weaker and weaker. You should also feel them less often. They may not ever go away completely.

Pain in the missing part of the arm or leg is called phantom pain. It may feel like:

Sharp or shooting pain

Achy pain

Burning pain

Cramping pain

Phantom limb pain will lessen over time for most people.

Some things may make phantom pain worse:

Being too tired

Putting too much pressure on the part of the arm or leg that is still there

Changes in the weather

Stress

Infection

An artificial limb that does not fit properly

Poor blood flow

Swelling in the part of the arm or leg that is still there

Self-care

Try to relax in a way that works for you. Do deep breathing, or pretend to relax the missing arm or leg.

Reading, listening to music, or doing something that takes your mind off the pain may help. You may also try taking a warm bath -- if your surgery wound is completely healed.

Ask your doctor if you can take acetaminophen (Tylenol), aspirin, ibuprofen (such as Advil or Motrin), or other drugs that can help with pain.

These things may also help lessen phantom pain:

Keep the remaining part of your arm or leg warm.

Move or exercise the remaining part of your arm or leg.

If you are wearing your prosthesis, take it off. If you're not wearing it, put it on.

If you have swelling in the remaining part of your arm or leg, try wearing an elastic bandage.

Wear a shrinker sock or compression stocking.

Try gently tapping or gently rubbing your stump.

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