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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:47 pm
The surgical procedure known as 'amputation,' or removal of a limb, sometimes becomes necessary in cases of gangrene, cancer, or as the result of an accident. Afterward, an artificial limb, known as a 'prosthetic' (pros-THEH-tic) device, may be used. Of course, it will never replace the real limb, but when properly instructed, you can make many adjustments and resume a nearly-normal life. A problem that some amputees face is phantom limb pain, which occurs in about 10 percent of patients. If you have phantom limb pain, you experience not only general sensations, but pain as if the injured limb were still intact. This isn't a mental or emotional disturbance but rather a neurological effect, because there aren't any nerves to tell your brain that the source of pain is gone and to halt these injury signals. One treatment you may consider is an epidural anesthetic, which can block the phantom limb pain. Another process that may help you is transcutaneous (trans-kew-TAY-nee-us) electrical nerve stimulation. Psychological counseling and counseling from an occupational therapist also may help ease both your physical and psychological pain following the trauma of amputation. For more information, contact a healthcare professional

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