Around 80% of amputees experience some form of phantom limb pain after their surgery. Phantom limb pain (PLP) is any painful sensation that appears to be coming from where an amputated limb used to be. Causes and treatments for PLP vary, and typically, it takes multiple forms of treatment to lessen or get rid of it. If you’ve started experiencing PLP, here are a few treatment options you can ask your physician about. Medications NSAIDs, opioids, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, beta blockers, and muscle relaxants have all been shown to lessen PLP if taken in combination with other medications and at various times of the day. That being said, you should always consult a medical professional before you begin taking medications for PLP. Some medications have dangerous side effects, especially when taken at the same time as other medications. Working closely with your physician to find which medications work for you is an absolute must. Massage Massages stimulate the nerves on the residual limbs, which causes the brain to focus on the massaging sensation instead of the PLP. Massages are one of the most common — and effective — forms of treatment for PLP. You can get a massage from a licensed therapist or a friend or family member. You can even massage your residual limb yourself. Massages also relax the muscles and increase blood flow to the residual limb. TENS And How Do I Combat It? WHAT IS PHANTOM LIMB PAIN?
THINKING WITH YOUR GUT
The Amazing Connection Between Your Stomach and Your Brain
While it may seem strange to think about, the human stomach is truly a thing of wonder. Most humans only acknowledge its digestive processes, but the gut plays a much more influential role in our day-to-day lives than simply breaking down food for nutrient production; it is closely connected to our emotional states, as well. Think about it. Have you ever felt butterflies before a date, intestinal pain during moments of stress, or nausea before an important presentation? Have you ever told someone to “follow their gut” before making a big decision? These physical symptoms are not a coincidence; they are known in the scientific world as the gut-brain axis . Your gut is connected to the limbic system, the part of the brain that processes emotions. The brain sends messages to all other organs in your body, so it’s not surprising it communicates with your stomach, too. What is surprising, however, is that the connection goes both ways. Just as your brain can relay information to your gut about excitement and anxiety, your gut can have a direct impact on the way you feel. According to a recent study published by the National Library of Medicine, when a person’s microbiome — the diverse population of good and bad bacteria living in the GI tract — becomes significantly altered or imbalanced, psychological or neurological issues can arise. In response to these emerging findings, dietary approaches and probiotics are being explored to see how well they can modulate a person’s microbiome and address symptoms. While research is still being conducted to determine the extent of the stomach’s influence over emotional and mental states, plenty of evidence proves the connection is real. Your stomach “talks” to you all the time, and, if you didn’t have enough reasons to pay attention to the food you eat, now you have one more thing to keep in mind. If you start thinking a bit more with your gut, your health will thank you for it!
TENS stands for “transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation,” a process used to describe when health care professionals run a low electrical current through pads attached to the end of the residual limb. The effect is similar to that of a massage. The electric currents give the nerves something else to focus on, and this diminishes the PLP.
In any case, PLP is most common immediately following surgery, and the sensation will fade over time. But, while you’re experiencing PLP, these treatments and others can help lessen
the pain. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call our office at (208) 377-4024.
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