Treatment

Why biofeedback would help this problem: Phantom limb pain occurs among people who have lost a limb for any reason (accident, war injury, vascular disease, etc.). The pain seems to be coming from the portion of the limb which has been removed. Studies have shown that burning / tingling descriptions of phantom pain are caused by too little blood flowing in the stump (residual limb) while cramping / twisting descriptions are caused by spasms in the major muscles of the stump. Causes of other, fortunately rarer, descriptions of phantom pain are not known.

Numerous studies have shown that people can learn to increase blood flow to their limbs while others have shown that people can control spasms in the muscles of their limbs. Amputees, even those with vascular diseases, can learn to increase blood flow in the stump and control spasms in the stump. Those amputees reporting burning / tingling phantom pain who can learn to increase blood flow in their stumps to normal levels eliminate their pain to the extent the blood flow level remains normal. Those amputees reporting cramping / twisting phantom pain who can learn to control the spasms in their stumps eliminate their pain to the extent the spasms remain controlled.

Muscle tension biofeedback to control cramping phantom pain usually takes between one and ten sessions. Temperature biofeedback to control burning phantom pain usually takes between ten and twenty sessions.

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