planned amputees take control of their pain?
These are my thoughts only. Please speak
with your health care professional. I am not medically qualified
to quantify any of the statements in this article. Please read the
disclaimer on the home page.
I have been an amp
since April 1995 and I have run the gauntlet with
phantom pain. As a result, I have done a lot of personal research
phantom pain, a myriad of drugs, (most of them useless) and have
spoken to a number of medical people and other amputees.
This is the pain theory that makes the most sense to me. They say
that the brain maps pain pathways, and remembers them. After an
amputation, the brain often continues to send pain signals to the
'phantom' or missing limb, and the nerve endings can carry on
misfiring and hi-jacking the leg for a very long time (like forever).
It is not unusual for amputees to experience the same degree of
pain they felt before amputation, and a lot of time, they feel the
same level of pain too. Phantom pain is a bugger. And there's
nothing 'phantom' about it.
We can, however, take steps to protect ourselves against it. There
are a number of things that surgeons and anesthetists are doing
to help lessen or prevent phantom pain. If you buy into the theory
that I am talking about (and a huge amount of people do), then this
is vitally important to investigate.
The only experience I have, is that of my own pain and research.
BUT - if it was me who was having a planned amputation, I would
never consider it without FULLY investigating the following :
Get control of the pain in 3 steps.
First, get yourself as pain free as possible PRIOR to the amputation.
If this means taking a hectic pain cocktail that flattens you for
weeks, DO IT.
Second, speak to your doctor/anesthetist about having something
epidural, or spinal block during the surgery. Some people are very
brave and only have this, no general anesthetic. Personally, I'm
not that strong. I would ask about having both. Ok, so now you
have taken care of the pain that your brain would have experienced
DURING the amputation.
Third, stay as pain free as possible AFTER the op. No hero stories
or purist mind sets. If they offer you pain drugs, take them. Sometimes
they are able to leave the epidural in for a few days after the
This has had a huge impact on other amputees, and most of them have
said that it definitely curbed a lot (if not all) of their phantom
pain. A lot
of them have had revision surgery, so they were able to compare
level of their pain from their first amputations (with no pain control)
the revision surgery using the above methods.
This is often not offered as a standard, but it has worked for too
people for it not to be a serious consideration. I would insist
on it, or
as much of it as my medical condition would allow.
I would be very pissed off if nobody told me about
this and I was unnecessarily burdened with pain afterwards.