Amputation of a limb due to a work-related injury is relatively rare. In 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics published data collected the previous year in which there were a total of 4,900 work-related amputations reported. However, if you work in one of several dangerous occupations in Connecticut, such as construction or factory work, you may be at a greater risk for an amputation due to a workplace accident.
If you have to have an amputation due to a traumatic workplace accident, you may experience a strange and disturbing sensation known as phantom pain. The discomfort seems to come from the limb that is no longer there.
Phantom pain is very common following an amputation and can range from mild to severe. The reason for it is not entirely clear, but researchers believe that it stems from the brain trying to adapt to new and confusing information received from the nerves.
The good news is that phantom pain is manageable. The following treatments have proven effective:
1. Local injection therapy
The remaining nerve endings at the amputation site may send pain signals to the brain. Injection with a pain-blocking medication helps to calm the nerves down and stop the pain signals.
2. Mirror therapy
Placing a mirror between the amputated limb and the intact limb and looking at the reflection seems to help rewire the motor-sensory-visual connection in the brain. It is not entirely clear why mirror therapy works, but patients tend to show improvement from 15 minutes of mirror therapy per day.
3. Nerve cuff stimulation
This involves surgery to place electrodes on the nerves traveling to the amputated limb. When you have pain, you can use a wireless remote control to activate the electrodes, which then replace the pain with a pleasant electrical sensation that travels back to the brain instead.
There are also other options available for treating phantom pain. It is important to report it so that your doctor can determine how to relieve it.