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Can a planned amputee take control of their pain?

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Your Responsibility to your Disability

The Phantom of Pain - by Alistair Plint

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Can 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 on
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 a few
weeks, DO IT.

Second, speak to your doctor/anesthetist about having something like an
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 op.

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 the
level of their pain from their first amputations (with no pain control) to
the revision surgery using the above methods.

This is often not offered as a standard, but it has worked for too many
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.

COOL LINKS

Chronic Pain Chronic pain management by Dr Mitchell

To be or not to be Active Living article by Kimberley Barreda

John Callahan Paraplegic humourist - not for the feint hearted

Disability sport in South Africa DISSA

THE ANGRY GIMP Awesome must read site!

Marco Du Plooy My Pretoria based prosthetist

Sleeve Art by Fred's Legs

Employment Guidelines from SA Dept of Labour for PWD's & employers

Amputee Resource - Al Pike CP

MAS Socket - information

Fly SA - Paragliding

Co LeDahu - Personal Website

Jam Ally Entertainment - where Ally works

Eric Morse - Para-sport photographer & friend (Canada)

 

 



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