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Phantom limb complex: Pathogenesis, clinical presentation and treatment

Author: 
Jerusha Santa Packyanathan and Dr. M. S. Thenmozhi
Subject Area: 
Health Sciences
Abstract: 

Objective: To review the literature for evidence based understanding of the clinical presentation, pathogenesis and treatment of the phantom limb syndrome. Background: Phantom limb pain (PLP) refers to the sensation of pain in the missing part of the amputated limb. It usually manifests as a burning sensation, a gripe and may vary in both intensity and frequency. It is associated with stump pain (SP) and phantom limb sensation (PLS). The incidence of this is very high, among patients who have undergone any amputation. The reason for this phenomenon is not fully understood and various hypothesis have been emerging since its original discovery. It has the potential to worsen the quality of life of the amputees. There are several methods of treatment, but their efficiency varies from patient to patient. Design: We conducted a systematic review of original research papers investigating the phantom limb syndrome, its cause and treatment and quality of life. Literature was sourced from articles and reviews in PubMed and Google scholar. Results and Conclusions: The phantom phenomenon is a chronic post-surgical pain with high incidence and profoundly affects the quality of life in amputees. Its treatment poses a huge challenge as the potential of the efficacy of treatment varies from person to person. Larger studies are required to investigate this phenomenon, both in terms of pathogenesis and effective treatment as it has a high morbidity.

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