By Michelle Gottlieb, PsyD, LMFT (link to profile)
Phantom limb pain is one of the most bizarre and troubling phenomenons in the medical field. This is when a limb is amputated, or lost in an accident, and the person still feels pain in the non-existent limb. The medical field has struggled for years on how best to deal with this. There has been some progress made but not enough.
Phantom limb pain also can be seen in survivors of breast cancer who have had mastectomies. People have even reported this phenomenon after having an organ removed. Neurologists have some theories as to why this happens, but again, nothing that is really revolutionizing the field.
This problem is becoming even more prominent with our returning veterans who are struggling with the loss of a limb and the trauma that goes along with that loss.
I recently went to a conference about EMDR Therapy (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), a type of trauma therapy that I have been doing for almost 9 years. I really like doing EMDR Therapy for two reasons: it is highly researched and it works! I heard a report about doing EMDR Therapy for people with phantom limb pain. And it stopped the pain! I was amazed so I read the research that had been done on it. It was all the same. In just a few sessions, these people who had suffered pain for years were no longer being bothered.
I have become fascinated by this, so fascinated that I am starting a research project for women who have suffered phantom breast pain. If you or anyone you know is suffering from phantom breast pain and would like to be in a study, please call me at 714-879-5868 x5. If you or anyone you know is suffering from phantom limb pain and would like treatment, please call me at the same number.
There is treatment available. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.
Therapists experienced in chronic pain treatment with EMDR