In collaboration with Keck School of Medicine

Post-Amputation Pain Management: New Research & Treatments

Post-amputation patient manages their limb loss pain and tries on a prosthetic limb

This article was originally published on Confronting Chronic Pain by Dr. Steven Richeimer, Director Pain Medicine Master and Certificate.

According to the Amputee Coalition, there are nearly 2 million people in the U.S. who are living with limb loss.  What many people who don’t have limb loss may not realize is that most of them go on to experience post-amputation chronic pain.

Researchers over the years continue to look for treatments to help those who experience long-term pain.  Pain education has greatly increased the number of treatment options. Thus, studies for management of chronic post-amputation pain continue.

In a new study published in the May 2020 issue of the Rhode Island Medical Journal, researchers estimated 95% of people with amputations experience pain.  There are two types of pain that amputee patients may experience, and they may experience one or both.

In their study to determine what types of treatments are used in the management of post-amputation pain, they found that the most common kind of pain is phantom limb pain, which is pain that is coming from the amputated part of the limb and derives from the nervous system.

Managing post-amputation pain has a variety of treatment options.  Some of the most common treatments include prescription medicine in management of chronic post-amputation pain.  These medications include:

  • Antidepressants
  • Opioids
  • Gabapentin

Local anesthetics can be used as alternatives.  In addition to the prescription medications, those who have post-amputation pain may explore such treatment options as mirror visual feedback and behavioral therapy.

Related Reading: Flexible Coping Strategies May Help with Chronic Pain & Depression

Additionally, there are surgical options and neuromodulatory treatment options available.  In another new study published in the March 2020 issue of the journal Pain Practice, researchers set out to identify the factors that affect pain intensity in those who have chronic pain from lower limb amputations.  Risk factors for more post-amputation pain were a person’s age, and whether or not they had pain before the amputation.

The area of study for post-amputation pain continues to provide answers, as well as additional treatment options.  Discuss the options with your doctor to determine which option may be the right pain management option for you.

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