Chronic pain is all too common among the two million people who are living with limb loss in the United States. 80 percent of individuals report chronic pain up to 20 years after their amputation. While many people with limb loss experience chronic pain and residual limb pain, these individuals can also experience phantom limb sensation(s) and phantom limb pain, which can all have a devastating impact on their physical and emotional health, increase their health care costs, and limit their ability to live a high-quality life.
No two people who experience amputation experience pain the same way. For people who are living with limb loss, pain can manifest in different forms and cause aching, burning, twisting, itching, and pressure. The way we treat and manage pain must recognize the unique needs of each and every individual, and we must encourage people who are living with limb loss and their healthcare providers to have an open dialogue about pain that helps patients better treat their condition. We also need to recognize that the way we currently treat pain for America’s limb loss population is not sufficient. The treatments and prosthetic devices on the market today have helped in recovery and readjustment, but we need more innovation in pain management that expands the range of treatment options for people experiencing pain after amputation.
The Amputee Coalition is working every day to advocate for policies and solutions that help people living with limb loss better treat and manage their pain and maintain a high quality of life that is not determined by their condition. By encouraging people with limb loss and their providers to have more informed discussions about pain, we can help more individuals effectively treat their pain. By creating incentives that open a pathway to new innovations in pain management, we can bring new treatment options to people after amputation. Let’s help more people who experience amputation control their pain and live the life they wish to lead.
We encourage you to join us in our efforts to advocate for advancements in pain management. Together, we can help more people living with limb loss be able to live the high-quality life they deserve.
How Pain Affects People Who Experience Amputation
People with limb loss can experience different types of pain. It’s important for patients and providers to understand the types of pain that can impact people who have experienced amputation, to create an effective treatment plan. These types of pain include:
- Phantom limb sensation (PLS) describes sensations that a person experiences after amputation where they may continue to have feeling in their amputated limb, even though it is no longer there. These sensations may include tingling, pins and needles, itching, temperature changes, pressure, abnormal position and movement.
- Phantom limb pain (PLP) refers to ongoing painful sensations that seem to be coming from the part of the limb that is no longer there. The limb is gone, but the pain is real. Read more about what causes phantom limb pain.
- Residual limb pain (RLP) originates in the remaining part of your limb and can be caused by a variety of conditions related to surgery or by conditions a person had prior to their amputation. Read more about the management of residual limb pain.
Read more about the types of pain that people with limb loss experience.
Take Action to Support Innovation in Pain Management for Those Who Experience Amputation
The Amputee Coalition advocates for policies, solutions, and innovations that help more people who experience amputation access new and more effective treatments to manage their pain. Join us in our efforts to advocate for innovation in pain management for people with limb loss. Sign up and we will send you information, updates, and opportunities to raise your voice on this issue for the limb loss community.
Amputee Coalition Resources on Pain
Explore Amputee Coalition resources on chronic pain today.
- Amputee Coalition: Introduction to Pain Management
- Amputee Coalition: Managing Phantom Pain
- Amputee Coalition: Managing Residual Limb Pain
- Amputee Coalition: Managing Secondary Conditions That May Cause Pain
The independent Amputee Coalition educational initiative on chronic pain was made possible with financial support from Pfizer, Inc.