Phantom limb pain refers to a continuous painful sensation that emanates from the missing limb. The onset of pain often occurs soon after amputation, and sufferers report feeling an itching, twisting, or burning sensation—some report feeling some pressure on the missing limb.
Various treatment options can help patients overcome or reduce and manage phantom limb pain, from nerve stimulation to mirror therapy and revision surgery to medical marijuana. But some people report finding relief from Class 4 therapy laser treatment or photobiomodulation (PBM).
PBM uses infrared laser light to regulate neuropathic pain. It works on phantom limb pain because it is classified as chronic neuropathic pain. PBM can regulate pain by affecting a whole host of issues, including chronic inflammation.
The lasers used in class 4 laser therapy treatment are cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Studies show that the procedure induces antinociception or the process of blocking the detection of a painful or harmful stimulus by sensory neurons. PBM jumpstarts this process by releasing central opioids, which helps with pain relief, especially in the early stages of treatment.
Antinociception refers to the process of blocking the detection of a painful or harmful stimulus by sensory neurons.
In the later stages, studies have shown that PBM induces permanent neuroplastic changes. These changes effectively maintain the antinociceptive state without depending on the opioid release.
The primary effects of PBM treatment occur when there is direct photonic or light absorption by chromophores in the tissues. The therapeutic lasers used in the treatment can deliver red and infrared laser light photons to large tissue volumes in just a few minutes, making treatment distribution efficient.
Those who have tried PBM vouch for its efficacy. Among those who do is Rex Burress, a man in his early 50s from Atlanta, Ga. He experienced severe phantom limb pain—described as having a steam roller on top of his foot—on his left leg. Burress was initially prescribed narcotics to manage or reduce the pain, but he didn't like how his body felt under the treatment plan.
After years of pain, Burress only found relief after he tried PBM. He described pain relief as a "mammoth reduction" of pain.
Numerous healthcare professionals also recommend this treatment to those suffering from phantom limb pain. It is generally safe and effective.If you're planning to explore the BPM treatment plan, please consult your physician and prosthetist.