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Treating Phantom Limb Pain with Vibration Therapy

Posted by Bryan Potok on

There are various methods to treat phantom limb pain, each offering varying degrees of success. As surgical techniques don't always give lasting relief, some medical practitioners and researchers encourage exploring conservative treatment methods, including vibration therapy.

 Vibration therapy is proven effective to relieve phantom limb pain.

What causes phantom limb pain?  

Phantom limb pain occurs in as many as 85% of individuals who undergo surgical amputation. These individuals often report sensations emanating from a limb that isn't there anymore. These sensations are often described as pain, from cramping and burning to a shooting sensation, ranging from mild to severe.

Besides pain, some patients report feeling other sensations, such as pressure, vibration, touch, tingling, itching, and hot or cold temperature.

Until recently, the reason for these sensations is shrouded in mystery. However, research published in 2019 shed some light on the phenomenon through the stochastic entanglement theory.

In a nutshell, when neural circuits responsible for processing sensory input and producing motor output in the missing limb loses its role, it becomes prone to entanglement with other neural networks, which cause them to send mixed signals to the brain.  

How can vibration therapy help?  

Vibration therapy stimulates the nerves, suppressing painful inputs and disrupting pain signals sent to the brain, thereby providing relief.

Vibration therapy also increases blood circulation and reduces symptoms of arthritis or restless legs syndrome.

Vibration therapy at home  

The good news is that those interested in vibration therapy don't have to go somewhere to receive treatment. Vibration therapy can be done at home with the TheraV ELIX.

Amira Idris, a biomedical engineer, developed the TheraV ELIX. Idris was inspired to create the device after a chance encounter with an above-knee (AK) amputee suffering from phantom limb pain at a prosthetic clinic where Idris used to work. 

After seeing the limited pain relief options available for amputees, Idris decided to create an alternative that doesn't depend solely on drugs.

Jen Yung Lee, an AK amputee from San Antonio, Texas, can attest to the TheraV ELIX's effectiveness. Lee is a veteran and a goaltender for the Paralympic Sled Hockey team. He assisted the team in winning the gold medal in the 2014 and 2018 games.

Before discovering the device, Lee has tried various conservative methods, including scraping massage, mirror reflection therapy, and deep tissue massage. He also tried to manage the pain with prescription pain medications, but none of these methods have provided lasting relief.   

Lee admits being skeptical at first. After using the TheraV ELIX for some time, he is convinced. As of this writing, Lee still uses the TheraV ELIX to help manage his phantom limb pain.

Unfortunately, vibration therapy isn't currently covered by the US Veterans Affairs Department (VA). However, Lee hopes that the Access to Assistive Technology and Devices for Americans Study Act will change that. He also hopes that the VA will consider covering vibration therapy access in the future. 

Have you used the TheraV ELIX? What are your thoughts about it?
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<a href="">Treating Phantom Limb Pain with Vibration Therapy</a>

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  • Wondering what the cost of the device is to publicize to our members. And are there different styles for legs, arms, etc. Phil

    philip tamoush on

  • Where and how do you get this device? How much us it ? Is it available niw?

    Adrienne Honey Combs on

  • I had Below elbow amputation after traumatic crush accident 18 months ago. How do I get this device, what is it exactly? I use a small massage vibration tool my OT recommended. Or tapping but it’s nit enough. My phantom arm still feels crushed , inside 800lbs of a freezer , it cramps and gets cold to touch. Tapping residual limb makes it tingle. I resort to resting residual limb on the handle of a shopping cart and pushing cart over bumpy road surface to my it vibrate! Please can you help me? I want to know more

    Adrienne Honey Combs on

  • Can this be used while in bed at night as that is when most of us need relief as that’s when phantom pain is the strongest.

    Nancy Towers on

  • It would have been polite for you to tell us that this device apparently is not available for sale.

    Judith Bronson on

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