Phantom limb pain is the sensation of pain in an area where a limb was amputated. Even though the limb is no longer there, the pain is in fact very real. The degree of phantom limb pain ranges between mild and extremely severe and can last for days, weeks or even years. The word "phantom" describes the missing limb or where the limb was severed. Phantom limb pain is extremely common in amputees and is seen in about 8 out of 10 individuals. Some of the symptoms of phantom limb pain include: burning/aching, pinching, itching, stabbing, throbbing, etc. Phantom limb pain is treated by focusing on easing symptoms. This can be achieved by pain relievers, antidepressants, muscle relaxers, some electrical impulse therapies and complementary therapies such as acupuncture and meditation.
A form of therapy known as mirror therapy is quite common in helping ease phantom limb pain. Mirror therapy is a completely holistic form of treatment. During this form of treatment, patients view their intact limb in a mirror while doing different movement exercises for approximately 20 minutes everyday. The reflection of the healthy limb tricks the brain into thinking that there are two fully intact limbs. Since the brain doesn't believe the limb is missing, the pain begins to dwindle until it ultimately disappears.