Understanding Phantom Pain

Phantom pain is felt in the part of the body that is being amputated. The disorder often occurs after surgeries to remove other body parts, such as the breast, penis, eye or tongue. Doctors once considered this post amputation pain is an illusion, but now the medical community recognizes phantom pain as a real sensation generating from the spinal cord and brain. For some people phantom pain fades over time without the need for treatment. For others living with phantom pain can be debilitating. You and your physician can work together to treat phantom pain efficiently with medications and other therapies

Managing phantom pain

Finding a treatment for managing  phantom pain can be challenging. At the Pain Management Institute Dr. Zaki Anwar formally initiates the treatment with medications and then may introduce non invasive therapies including acupuncture and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. More invasive options include injections and implanted devices. Surgery is done only as the last option when all the other traditional treatment fails to provide relief


Though no medications are specially formulated to treat phantom pain, some over the counter pills may help relieve nerve pain. However a single drug does not work for everyone neither all of us get relief from the medications. Medications recommended for phantom pain include;

  • Antidepressants
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Narcotics
  • Noninvasive therapies

Non invasive methods for treating Phantom Pain

Phantom pain can be treated with noninvasive therapies, but it involves trial and observation. The most recommended techniques are;

Nerve stimulation

The transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation a device is introduced that send a low intensity electric current with the help of a sticky patch on the skin adjacent to the area of pain. The electric current may disguise the pain signals and prevent them from reaching your brain. When done by an expert medical practitioner, TENS is relatively safe and refrain from involuntary shocks.


Don’t wear TENS device while taking shower or don’t raise the intensity


The Pain Management Institute has revealed that acupuncture can be a potential treatment for some specific chronic pain. The acupuncture practice involves inserting thin needles, sterilized needles into the skin at specific points on the body. By targeting the pressure points body release some natural pain relieving Endorphins

Minimally invasive therapies


Injecting steroid shots or pain relieving medication provide relief in phantom pain

Spinal cord stimulation

Dr Zaki Anwar, MD inserts a small device attached to electrodes adjacent to your spinal cord which transmits current in lower intensity helps alleviate pain

Nerve blocks

This method involves supplying medications that interrupt with pain signals between the brain at the point of phantom pain


Surgery is the only option when all the other non surgical treatments for phantom pain fail