If your limb hurts, you can do many things to relieve the pain. You can get a massage, rub it, put a heating ointment on it. You can go to the doctor and get an X-ray or other diagnostics that will help you figure out what is wrong with your limb. But what can you do if the limb that hurts doesn’t exist anymore?
Today the world is still torn apart by wars in different countries. Millions of people come back with disabilities, lucky to be at least alive. A lost limb is better than a lost life though. However, a risk to lose a body part exists even in peacetime such as from car crashes and other accidents happen every day.
It’s quite normal when people after an amputation, for a certain time still “feel” their amputated organ when they want to grab something as they used to do. The brain still remembers the connection and reproduces it. This passes with time when a person completely adapts to a life without the limb.
But what to do if the missing limb is not only felt like it’s still there but it even hurts? How is it possible that something that doesn’t exist anymore, still bothers you? Such a sensation is called phantom pain and is widely spread.
It’s All in Your Head
At the moment, scientists haven’t completely figured out the mechanism of phantom pain. The only thing that is clear is that the brain is involved. This pain is like a computer error. It sends signals to the non-existent limb. This happens due to the memory of operating that body part, which is saved in our brain like a computer file. It’s like a program installed into your head. But speaking about the pain, many things still remain unclear.
The pain is reported to get worse after stress or any emotional breakdown by many people without limbs. This fact gives reasons to classify phantom pain as the type of neuropathic pain and conclude that it is stress-dependent.
Is It Curable?
There have been many attempts to understand and treat phantom pains (even including surgery, which wasn’t very effective). Electrical stimulation also gives little effect. However, there are treatment strategies that bring significant relief to patients who suffer from phantom pains.
As we understand that phantom pains are the result of a “brain error”, we also understand that stress that overwhelms the brain should be eliminated. Different techniques of relaxation and psychotherapy (which is necessary for people who were at war or suffered from any kind of violence since most of them are affected by PTSD) improve the condition significantly.
Stem Cell Therapy
This is a new treatment strategy for different diseases yet the studies are still ongoing. It gives very good results in treating different kinds of pain and the consequences of physical injuries. Stem cell treatment is the technology of the future, no one doubts that fact.
Physical therapy, sometimes combined with painkillers when necessary also gives good results. It is based on the properties of different physical factors and has a complex restorative effect. It can be combined with other types of therapy to give the best results.
However, without figuring out the emotional problems, any treatment may give little effect. This concerns any abnormal condition related to the brain’s function. Your brain is what you should start with.