A serious traumatic injury to one of your limbs may result in extensive damage to the blood vessels or nerves. If your doctor cannot repair the damage, it may be necessary to amputate the limb.
After an amputation, you may experience pain in the remaining part of the limb or pain and sensation that seems to be coming from the part that is missing. These sensations may be frightening but are normal and common. According to the Cleveland Clinic, it may be possible to treat the discomfort. There are different types of post-amputation pain and sensation, and treatment depends on determining which type you have.
Residual limb pain
Residual limb pain occurs in the portion of the limb that remains following amputation, also known as the stump. There are several possible reasons that you may experience residual limb pain. One reason is an ill-fitting prosthetic.
When the doctor closes the incision with a suture following your amputation, he or she may trap one of the severed nerve ends in the suture line. The severed nerve may then form a neuroma, which is a tiny ball-shaped structure at the end of the nerve that can cause pain.
Phantom sensation occurs when you feel as though the limb is still there. It is not painful, and some patients even find it rather pleasant. However, it can be disconcerting. Some patients describe the sensation as telescoping, meaning that it feels as though the limb is still there but has shrunk to an abnormally small size.
Sometimes the sensation that seems to be coming from the missing limb is painful. Phantom pain is distinct from nonpainful phantom sensation. If you have phantom pain, it can take the form of burning, itching or pressure that can range from mild to severe. Phantom pain is very common, occurring in approximately 80% of all amputations.
Different treatment options are available for each of these types of post-amputation pain or sensation. You should report whatever you are feeling to your doctor and try to describe it in as much detail as possible. This can help your doctor determine which type of sensation you have.