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What is phantom limb syndrome?

On Behalf of | Oct 10, 2023 | Amputation |

When someone suffers an amputation injury, which could happen during an accident at work, they may deal with something called phantom limb syndrome. This has been recorded in at least 80% of amputees, according to the National Library of Medicine, and reports even say that it could be as high as 100%. In other words, phantom limb syndrome is incredibly common, but it can also be very difficult.

Essentially, the syndrome is when a person still feels sensations from the limb that has been amputated. It doesn’t exist, but it feels to them like it does. This can be very disconcerting, especially if they are having phantom pain. It can be very hard to treat the pain because it isn’t real and the limb itself is no longer there, but the nerves are still sending pain signals to the brain, which interprets them as authentic pain.

What are some risk factors?

There are some risk factors that make this more likely, such as a traumatic amputation. This means that it is more likely for someone who gets injured in a work accident involving a hydraulic press, for instance, than someone who has their limb amputated in a medical setting. Studies have also considered the types of anesthesia that are used during an amputation and how much preoperative pain the patient has.

Another potential issue is that the pain can last for different amounts of time for different individuals. This means that their experience with healing after a workplace accident can be much different from someone who only has physical symptoms. The worker may recover physically but still have a lot of trauma and ongoing pain due to phantom limb syndrome.

This is a complicated medical issue. Those who have been injured on the job must know what rights they have to workers’ comp benefits.