Freezing Therapy Can Relieve Amputees' Phantom Limb Pain
Eighty-five percent of the amputees are suffering from phantom limb pain and finding a cure seems hopeless. A new study in Emory, however, found a new way to relieve the pain.
The phantom limb pain came from the signals emitted by the nerve endings of the limbs of amputees. After a study was done where 20 amputees participated, they found out that freezing therapy may help patients who are suffering from the pain, Pulse Headlines reported.
According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 200,000 Americans lose their limbs through amputation procedures each year. Among these patients are diagnosed with diabetes, military veterans, and trauma patients.
Phantom limb pain is described as "an acute pain and severe disorientation of the nervous system after the body has lost a limb."
The patients have undergone cryoablation where a needle is inserted in the affected limb as part of the process. The needle will emit cold shocks in regular intervals to shut down the nerve that sends signals that cause the pain. Each patient took 25 minutes session and most of them said that it reduced the pain. They were asked to rate their pain from one to 10 and the average rate of pain is 6.4 before the treatment. The rate dropped to 2.4 after 45 days of treatment.
Charles Presley, 59 was among the 20 participants who received a freezing therapy done by the Emory University. "It was amazing, the very next day, all that aching and pain were gone," he said.
"Essentially what we see is for a great majority of patients, if we had 100 patients undergo therapy, we can expect 85 of them to respond," said Dr. J. David Prologo, an assistant professor in the division of interventional radiology at Emory University School of Medicine.
The phantom limb pain is hard to treat each patient with this condition has a different neural pathway that makes it difficult to create a treatment that will work for all patients, the researcher said.
The current ways to treat phantom limb pain includes anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medications, opioids, psychological interventions and mirror therapy, Fox News reported.
"Current treatments are from stem-to-stern- psychological to psychiatric and everywhere in-between- but none are particularly effective," Prologo said.
Meanwhile, the team has applied for a grant to further their study. They would like to design a multi-center trial at the San Antonio Military Medical Center, the largest military hospital in the United States where the biggest number of amputees.