What causes phantom limb sensation following lower-extremity amputation?

Updated: Apr 29, 2021
  • Author: Janos P Ertl, MD; Chief Editor: Vinod K Panchbhavi, MD, FACS, FAOA, FABOS, FAAOS  more...
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Answer

Phantom limb sensation (ie, the sensation that the amputated limb is still present) occurs in nearly all patients who undergo amputations. It tends to decrease gradually over time. Phantom limb pain is described as a painful burning sensation in the amputated limb, and it is more common than was previously thought. Contributing causes of residual limb pain include neuromas at the level of the amputation, which become adherent to skin, muscle, and bone. This can lead to direct nerve-end stimulation or pain from traction with extremity motion. Continuous pulsatile arterial stimulation of the nerve occurs when the neurovascular structures are ligated together.


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