Pain Research and Management

Pain Research and Management / 2010 / Article

Original Article | Open Access

Volume 15 |Article ID 981634 |

C de Roos, AC Veenstra, A de Jongh, ME den Hollander-Gijsman, NJA van der Wee, FG Zitman, YR van Rood, "Treatment of Chronic Phantom Limb Pain Using a Trauma-Focused Psychological Approach", Pain Research and Management, vol. 15, Article ID 981634, 7 pages, 2010.

Treatment of Chronic Phantom Limb Pain Using a Trauma-Focused Psychological Approach


BACKGROUND: Chronic phantom limb pain (PLP) is a disabling chronic pain syndrome for which regular pain treatment is seldom effective. Pain memories resulting from long-lasting preamputation pain or pain flashbacks, which are part of a traumatic memory, are reported to be powerful elicitors of PLP.OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether a psychological treatment directed at processing the emotional and somatosensory memories associated with amputation reduces PLP.METHODS: Ten consecutive participants (six men and four women) with chronic PLP after leg amputation were treated with eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). Pain intensity was assessed during a two-week period before and after treatment (mean number of sessions = 5.9), and at short- (three months) and long-term (mean 2.8 years) follow-up.RESULTS: Multivariate ANOVA for repeated measures revealed an overall time effect (F[2, 8]=6.7; P<0.02) for pain intensity. Pairwise comparison showed a significant decrease in mean pain score before and after treatment (P=0.00), which was maintained three months later. All but two participants improved and four were considered to be completely pain free at three months follow-up. Of the six participants available at long-term follow-up (mean 2.8 years), three were pain free and two had reduced pain intensity.CONCLUSIONS: These preliminary results suggest that, following a psychological intervention focused on trauma or pain-related memories, substantial long-term reduction of chronic PLP can be achieved. However, larger outcome studies are required.

Copyright © 2010 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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