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3 ways phantom limb pain can affect people’s lives

On Behalf of | May 30, 2024 | Catastrophic Injury

Limb loss either due to surgery or a traumatic injury can have profound consequences for an affected individual. The physical limitations of losing a body part can be difficult to overcome. Many people require months of rehabilitative care and possibly prosthetic devices to regain basic functions after an amputation. Quite a few people who experience limb loss may also have to deal with the lingering consequences of phantom limb pain.

Phantom limb pain involves unpleasant physical sensations that people associate with the lost body part. People can look right at a missing arm while feeling pain in the body part that does not exist. Damage to the nerves and nearby tissue may contribute to phantom limb pain.

How does phantom limb pain tend to affect someone who has lost a body part to amputation?

Reduced quality of life

Phantom limb pain can be sporadic and occasional or relatively constant. In either scenario, the person dealing with phantom limb pain probably experiences a significant reduction in their overall quality of life because of their symptoms. Pain can disrupt someone’s sleep and affect their mood, which can have a negative impact on their relationships and employment.

The need for more medical care

Phantom limb pain can sometimes be so significant that it becomes debilitating. People may need to seek out medical interventions, which may range from medication and therapy to revision surgical procedures. Treatment can be expensive and can interrupt someone’s daily life. Although physicians tend to start with the least invasive interventions possible, the care required to address phantom limb pain or at least minimize it can be quite costly.

Increased risk of depression

Anyone adjusting to new medical limitations might have mental health consequences. Those experiencing phantom limb pain after the trauma of limb loss may have an elevated risk of depression and other mental health challenges. Given how many medical issues they already face, they may be reticent to request support with the negative emotions they have related to their chronic phantom limb pain.

Those who understand how limb loss can affect their lives are potentially in a better position to respond effectively after an amputation. They may need help seeking compensation for not just their immediate medical expenses but the likely future complications they may have to address related to the amputation. Factoring in the potential impact of phantom limb pain when developing a legal and financial response to an injury can be beneficial for those adjusting to life after limb loss.