With all the types of pain you can feel in real life, getting pain in extremities that aren’t even there anymore can be seen as a giant middle finger given to you by life. Because after you go through the traumatic experience of losing a limb, how is it that you still have to be in pain stemming from that particular place?
Well, that’s just the way life is, but that doesn’t in any way mean that you have to live with it. Aside from the fact that only a small number of amputee patients actually suffer from phantom limb syndrome, there a few treatments that can get rid of it… most of the times.
Phantom limb pain
In the United States alone, there are somewhere around 200,000 amputations performed every year. Most of these are either veterans that got wounded during service or diabetes patients that have to have a limb amputated, otherwise risk losing their lives. It’s not any sort of a comforting thought.
Even worse, among these amputees, there are those that will keep suffering even after the limb is removed. That is owed to the phantom limb syndrome, a condition that hasn’t so far been explained. The pain originates in the scar tissue and nerves at the spot of the amputation, and there are no specialized medications for the condition. Some treatments like acupuncture work for some, but not all.
So, a team of researchers led by Dr. David Prolongo from the Emory University School of Medicine figured out that cryoablation reduces phantom limb pain in amputees. The procedure is quite non-invasive, and the actual duration is of only about 25 minutes. So fat it has proven very effective.
The procedure actually consists of inserting a small probe through the skin of the amputated limb and lowering the skin temperature for about 25 minutes in order to shut down nerve signals. It doesn’t even require being admitted to the hospital, as advanced imagery techniques help guide the probe very easily.
Study and results
In order to determine whether the procedure was actually viable or not, the team of researchers performed a study on a small group of amputee patients. The twenty patients recruited between January and June of 2015 were asked to rate their pain on a scale of one to ten before treatment, a week after, and 45 days after undergoing the procedure.
To the excitement of the team of experts, while the average before the intervention was rated at 6.4, it turned out to maintain at a steady 2.4 during the last screening, 45 days after the procedure. This may prove to be a very highly viable treatment for reducing the previously untreatable side effect of amputation.
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