Lots of people have been asking me about Phantom pain and my thaughts on various therapies to help with it. I had my below knee amputation at the beginning of April this year, and by June I was free from phantoms. So how did I do it? Not with drugs! I am allergic to all of the usual medications which help with phantom pains, so these were never an option for me. I woke from surgery with absolutely horrific phantom pains and strange sensations. My 1st sensation which diddnt go for a few weeks was cold toes! The phantoms were relentless. I was lucky to have a great prosthetic councellor who is a specialist in mirror therapy. She started me on this 5 days post op. It was the best thing I could have done.
Mirror therapy was invented by Vilayanurs Ramachandran to alleviate phantom limb pain. You place the good limb on one side of a mirror and the amputated stump on the other. I sat in my wheelchair with a large mirror between my legs. You then look into the mirror on the side with the good limb. Then you ‘mirror’ movements made by your good leg. Ie, leg extention, extend leg at knee, both legs at the same time (mirror symmetric). Because you see the reflected image, it appears that your phantom limb is also moving. When I first started this it felt like my foot had grown back. I got all sorts of sensations. It could be quite uncomfortable at times. But it was worth it. The trick is to do the therapy when you are having phantom pain. I did the therapy between 2-3 times per day. It can seem that it isnt doing much. Like you are putting alot of effort in, for not much reward. But just hang in there and be patient. The biggest reward will come. Being pain free is the best reward of all. I diddnt realise that it had done anything until I realised that I hadnt done it for a few days, and this was simply because I diddnt need to. The pain had gone. Whilst working on the mirror therapy I would also spend a little time each day desensatising stumpey. Using heat packs, and different massage. I would put cream on several times a day. Massage would sometimes help with the phantoms too. I would get cracking with it as soon as you can, and dont give up. The results will be worth the effort and time you put in. Each session only lasts for about 10 minutes. Which is nothing really. This really does work. Im proof of it. So give it a go. What have you got to loose. Its got to be better than being in pain, and taking medications that make you hungry and gain weight.
1) Get comfortable.
2) Go somewhere quiet, where you wont be disturbed.
3) Do at least 2-3 sessions per day.
4) Dont give up.