Phantom Limb


To exclude infections and other possible causes of ongoing limb discomfort, your healthcare provider will conduct a physical examination and may suggest diagnostic tests. These examinations could involve imaging scans like ultrasounds and blood tests. If the source of the pain cannot be determined, based on your symptoms, your healthcare provider may diagnose phantom pain.


The objective of phantom limb pain treatment is to reduce symptoms. Among them includes:

  • Antidepressants.
  • Antiseizure medications.
  • Beta blockers.
  • Muscle relaxers.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Pain relievers.

Pain treatments that include electrical impulses being sent to the brain, spinal cord, or nerves may be helpful. Among them are includes neurostimulation, spinal cord stimulation, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS).

According to research, mirror therapy has shown promise in alleviating phantom pain. In this therapy, individuals typically spend approximately 20 minutes each day engaging in mobility exercises while observing the reflection of their intact limb in a mirror. This visual illusion tricks the brain into perceiving the presence of two healthy limbs.

Over time, the brain incorporates this visual feedback, potentially leading to a reduction in pain. Repeating the exercises may be necessary for sustained relief. The absence of pain in the phantom limb is attributed to the brain’s perception of the missing limb as non-existent. Working with a physical therapist can aid in mastering these exercises.

The following alternative treatment may also relieve phantom pain:

  • Acupuncture.
  • Biofeedback.
  • Massage.
  • Meditation or mindfulness exercises.