Amputation pain

I write on behalf of a friend with no internet access her husband had his arm amputated above the elbow earlier this year He has " phantom" pain BUT much worse than that totally debilitating pain from the stump itself He is led to believe that this is because the operation was not satisfactorily done has anyone a helpful way to counteract at least some of the pain apart from the extreme painkillers he was given which actually wiped him out all day .?

4 Replies

  • ok. Well there is nothing 'phantom' about the pain , and it needs re-naming. The pain has the same cause as in people with Chronic Pain like myself. When the body gets damaged, it sends pain signals to the brain to make us aware of the injury and stop and further injury, for instance, if you burn yourself on the iron, its the pain signals sent by the nerves that cause you to pull your hand away from the iron. Thats putting it simply. That is also an 'acute' reaction. It settles down as time goes on and the injury heals, until there is no more pain. With chronic pain, and amputation, the nerves continue to send the pain signals long after the initial injury has healed. The nerves 'misfire'. So for your friends husband, the initial reason he had the amputation has long since gone, or healed, but the nerves are stuck in the cycle of sending pain signals to his brain. Now, unfortunately, medicine can fix broken bones, stitch skin back together, give us transplants etc. Most wonderful. BUT - it cannot really help with damaged nerves. And for some, that knowledge is extremely difficult to accept, and the thought of being in pain for the rest of our lives is just incomprehensible. There are some meds that may help him, that possibly have a 'dampening' reaction on the nerves, such as amitriptyline, gabapentin, pregabalin. Some have more success with these than others. It sounds like your friends husband may have been given opiates - morphine or morphine based drugs. These are not brilliantly successful for nerve pain but they are pretty much the only thing out there at the moment. There is a cream - capsacin, that may help - that may act on the nerves.

    I think he needs to go to his doctor and ask to be referred to a Pain Management clinic. They will help him understand his pain and give him the tools to make life easier. I am on some of the tablets mentioned, plus morphine, but the best thing i ever did was go to the PM clinic. I was very cynical at first, but it really really helped.

    Good luck x

  • Hi I had my left arm amputated 4 years ago and I can still feel my hand it's phantom limb pain that's, what my pain specialist calls it he dose need to get a referral to a pain specialist they can sort the right meds that he needs, I was on 900mgs pregabalin a day and 200mgs amittriptyline at night 40mgs OxyContin a day also morphine liquid about 4 times a day they have stopped working for me now waiting for pain specialist to sort new drugs out for me, jaffa7 is right there are really good specialist out there I was one of the lucky ones

  • Hi Pig4u (!)

    Very important for him to get back into treatment at a pain clinic ASAP. It's either phantom pain or not. If the operation wasn't well performed he needs a second opinion. If it is phantom pain a pain clinic should be able to help him. Best wishes 😜

  • It may be he has developed Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, in my opinion Phantom Limb Pain is a variation of this condition. Have a look at the symptoms here.

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