Phantom Limb Sensation and Phantom Limb Pain
Sometimes after a body part has been amputated, it feels as if that part is still there. This is called phantom sensation. It is a normal part of healing after surgery. Phantom sensation is not pain, but is a “tingly,” cramping, or itching feeling where the missing part used to be. For some people, phantom sensation goes away with time, but it is very unpleasant. The phantom pain feels as if it is in the part that is missing, especially in a foot or hand. Not all amputee patients have phantom pain. Phantom pain can be short-term or it can last for a long time. It may feel like a burning, crushing, or stabbing sensation. A study was conducted to determine the frequency of phantom limb sensation (PLS) and phantom limb pain (PLP) in children and young adults suffering landmine-related amputation.
All youths with amputation due to landmine explosions participated in this study. The proportions of patients with phantom limb sensation/pain, intensity and frequency of pain were reported. Chi square test was used to examine the relationship between variables. Comparison of PLP and PLS between upper and lower amputation was done by unpaired t-test.
In this study, 38 males and 3 females with the mean age of 15.8±2.4 years participated. The mean interval between injury and follow up was 90.7 ±39.6 months. Results indicated that 12 upper limb amputees and 11 lower limb amputees had phantom limb sensation (PLS) whereas, 9 upper limb amputees and 7 lower limb amputees experienced phantom limb pain (PLP). Among 27 upper limb amputees, 6 and among 15 lower limb amputees, 6 experienced both PLS and PLP. But, one case was there which suffered amputation of upper and lower limbs and were experiencing phantom limb sensation and phantom limb pain. Whereas, phantom limb sensation had a significant difference between the upper and lower amputated groups.
As a result, significant relationship was observed between age of casualty and duration of injury with phantom limb pain. However, phantom limb sensation and pain in young survivors of landmine explosions appeared to be common even after the amputation.