Diagnosing Phantom Limb Pain

Source: Mayo Clinic, WebMD

What is Phantom Limb Pain?

Many people who have had an amputation feel pain, or other sensations, in the limb as if it is still attached. In cases where they experience pain, it is called phantom limb pain. Not everyone who loses a limb will experience phantom limb pain, but for those that do, the pain can range from mild to severe

How is Phantom Limb Pain Diagnosed?

A physician should be able to identify phantom limb pain based on current symptoms and the circumstances that caused the limb removal. For proper treatment, it is imperative that the physician determines if the pain is a result of phantom limb pain or residual limb pain. A detailed description of the location and severity of the pain is needed by the physician to make a diagnosis.

Is There a Test for Phantom Limb Pain?

No specific medical tests exist to diagnose phantom limb pain. Certain tests such as MRIs or CAT scans may be ordered to determine if the part of the brain that handles pain sensitivity for the amputated limb is showing pain activity.

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