A Freezing Treatment Can Help Amputees With Phantom Pain

Learn All About Cryoablation Therapy

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There are different techniques to help people ease their pain, but a newer freezing technique could possibly help reduce the phantom limb pain that haunts many amputees. Researchers have found that a constant pain emitted from the area where the limb/body part was severed could be reduced, in some cases, when the nerve and scar tissue are frozen in place.

This method of freezing tissues and nerves is known as cryoablation therapy. It is a mildly invasive method that can help the 200,000 Americans who receive every year, according to the Center of Disease Control (CDC). Many patients include military personnel/veterans, people who have diabetes, and people who experience severe infections. All these people have to experience an unbearable nervous system orientation when their lost limb causes continuous pain.

Understanding Phantom Pain

Phantom pain is pain that feels as if it's surfacing from a body part that no longer exists. Doctors once believed this post-amputation idea was a psychological matter, but experts now understand that these real sensations come from the brain and spinal cord. Researchers state that the phantom pain comes from distorted signaling coming from the rest of the limb, with nerve endings and uncontrollable nerves nearby. This can result in unbearable pain and feeling of the limb that is no longer there. 

Although phantom pain occurs most often in people who've had an arm or leg take out, the problem may also occur after operations to remove other body parts, like the breast, eye, or tongue. For some people, phantom pain goes away after some time without medical intervention. For others, managing phantom pain can be quite a task. You and your physician can brainstorm together to treat phantom pain productively with prescription drugs or other therapies.

The Science Behind Cryoablation Therapy

Even though there are many variables, the amount of pain patients feel because of phantom pain have not changed in the last fifty years. Many of these patients have not seen any changes with any of their standard treatments.

Researchers composed cryoablation therapy by using the same freezing therapy that targets hidden nerve problems liable for premature ejaculation. They determined that the cryoablation could help with the phantom pain from missing limbs. Researchers have been hard at work, testing this freezing technique to determine if it can improve phantom pain, or maybe even treat it altogether.

The leading researcher of this treatment stated that they are still testing the therapy to see if it works, but that trying this new method could help many who suffer with this pain. He also stated that combination of different therapies, techniques, and drugs like psychological counseling or surgery could also be used to remove the damaged nerves. The researcher states that in the end, this freezing technique could stop the nerves from communicating and overall improving the quality of life for these patients. The findings are being presented to the Society of Interventional Radiology in Canada.

With all the information, what the researchers know can be a bit difficult to follow. Here is a quick summary of the overall study: Researchers took 20 amputees who were diagnosed with phantom limb pain and had them undergo image guided cryoablation. This imaging require the insertion of a probe needle, which goes under the skin where the limb was lost. After localizing the nerve, researchers exposed the nerves to a cold blast for about 25 minutes. This allows for those localized nerve’s signaling to shut down.

After 45 days of treatment, the majority of the patients stated that from a scale of one to ten, their pain went from seven or six before the treatment, to a two or three after the treatment. With these results, steps are being taken for this treatment to be approved by the American Medical Association (AMA).

Even though this treatment has been providing great results, it does not mean that it will work for everyone. It is important to know that not every treatment is the same and that researching possible treatments are very important. If you find yourself interested in this treatment you can also search the original paper online using free journal websites. This new treatment can pave the way to more possible treatments for amputees and patients with nerve damage.

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