Amputee Pain Relief

This common condition affects nearly 80% of amputees. However, it can be expertly treated so that these patients can rest easier and experience a sense of peace in their bodies.

Man with a prosthetic leg standing in front of a river

Why Choose The Atlas Institute of Peripheral Nerve Care?

At the Atlas Institute of Peripheral Nerve Care, our compassionate providers take your pain seriously, crafting individualized treatment plans that combine both surgical and non-surgical solutions to bring lasting relief and improved quality of life. Our state-of-the-art facility is home to cutting-edge diagnostic and therapeutic technology that can help put an end to debilitating discomfort, immobility, and stress. We will not rest until we get to the root causes of your condition. As a result, many of our patients who have been unsuccessful with other practitioners are able to find healing at our offices.

What Does Phantom Pain Feel Like?

Phantom pain may arise immediately after your amputation, or it may show up weeks or months down the line. The pain may be erratic and unpredictable, or it may be steady and ongoing. Discomfort may be especially intense at night, as this is a time when outside distractions no longer mask the issue. 

Post-amputation pain can be:

  • Throbbing
  • Sharp
  • Burning
  • Cramping
  • Pins and needles

What are the Causes of Phantom Pain?

The leading school of thought is that phantom pain is caused by faulty communication between the brain, the spinal cord, and the peripheral nerves. Certain factors can make the pain worse, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Limb pain before amputation
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What are the Relevant Treatment Strategies?

  • NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs 
  • Nerve pain medications (antidepressants, blood pressure pills, anti-seizure medications)
  • Behavior modification
  • Rehabilitation psychology
  • Injections
  • Targeted muscle reinnervation
  • Wearing a prosthetic limb

Resolving Post-Amputation Pain Through Surgery

When phantom pain has a cause related to the nerves, it can often be resolved with TMR – targeted muscle reinnervation. With this technique, the ends of the nerves are split and then placed into new muscles. This helps to decrease discomfort and allows robotic limbs to decode signals from the muscles.

The TMR Treatment Process

Targeted muscle reinnervation is performed under general anesthesia and takes 3-4 hours to perform. It involves rerouting the peripheral nerves in the amputated limb. The surgeon makes an incision in the limb, detecting your motor and sensory nerves with a nerve stimulation device. The sensory nerves are cut and attached to the motor nerves. If you suffer from a neuroma, it will be removed during surgery. TMR also makes it less likely to develop a neuroma in the future.

Benefits of TMR

Targeted muscle reinnervation is known for promoting the healing and growth of nerves. By preventing the sensory nerves from sending false pain signals to the brain, it can help relieve pain and discomfort associated with amputation. Many patients experience an improved quality of life after undergoing TMR at The Atlas Institute of Peripheral Nerve Care.

Recovery After TMR

Patients typically remain in the hospital for the first night after their procedure. They receive detailed aftercare instructions so they know what to expect from the healing process. They may be referred for physical therapy to help build up flexibility, strength, and mobility.

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Guidelines After Surgery

  • Patients can shower within 48 hours of their surgery.
  • Swimming, baths, and hot tubs should be avoided for the first 4-6 weeks.
  • The surgical site will be bandaged for several weeks after the procedure.
  • Once the swelling has declined and the incision has healed, a compression garment will be worn on the residual limb. This typically occurs within 2 weeks.
  • Most patients will resume normal activities (including wearing a prosthetic) within 4-6 weeks.
  • Surgical pain will fade over the course of 6 weeks.
    Phantom pain and neuroma pain will gradually lessen over the course of the next 3-6 months.
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