Phantom pain is pain caused by elimination or interruption of sensory nerve impulses by destroying or injuring the sensory nerve fibers after amputation or deafferentation. The reported incidence of phantom limb pain after trauma, injury or peripheral vascular diseases is 60% to 80%. Over half the patients with phantom pain have stump pain as well. Phantom pain can also occur in other parts of the body; it has been described after mastectomies and enucleation of the eye. Most patients with phantom pain have intermittent pain, with intervals that range from 1 day to several weeks. Even intervals of over a year have been reported. The pain often presents itself in the form of attacks that vary in duration from a few seconds to minutes or hours. In most cases, the pain is experienced distally in the missing limb, in places with the most extensive innervation density and cortical representation. Although there are still many questions as to the underlying mechanisms, peripheral as well as central neuronal mechanisms seem to be involved. Conservative therapy consists of drug treatment with amitriptyline, tramadol, carbamazepine, ketamine, or morphine. Based on the available evidence some effect may be expected from drug treatment. When conservative treatment fails, pulsed radiofrequency treatment of the stump neuroma or of the spinal ganglion (DRG) or spinal cord stimulation could be considered (evidence score 0). These treatments should only be applied in a study design.

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Department of Anesthesiology

Wolff, A., Vanduynhoven, E., van Kleef, M., Huygen, F., Pope, J., & Mekhail, N. (2011). Phantom Pain. doi:10.1002/9781119968375.ch21