ABSTRACT: Phantom limb pain (PLP) is a significant source of chronic pain in most persons with amputation at some time in their clinical course. Pharmacologic therapies for this condition are often only moderately effective and may produce unwanted adverse effects. There is growing empirical evidence of the therapeutic effectiveness of mind-body therapies for the relief of chronic pain; therefore, an exploration of their role in relieving amputation-related chronic pain iswarranted. We undertook a focused literature review on mind-body interventions for patients with amputation who experience PLP. Because of study heterogeneity, only descriptive presentations of the studies are presented. Only studies of hypnosis, imagery, and biofeedback, including visual mirror feedback, were found; studies on meditation, yoga, and tai chi/qigong were missing from the literature. Few studies of specific mind-body therapies were dedicated to management of PLP, with the exception of mirror visual therapy. Overall, studies were largely exploratory and reflect considerable variability in the application of mind-body techniques, making definitive conclusions inadvisable. Nevertheless, the weight of existing findings indicates that a mind-body approach to PLP pain management is promising and that specific methods may offer either temporary or long-term relief, either alone or in combination with conventional therapies. The authors discuss the potential for usefulness of specific mind-body therapies and the relevance of their mechanisms of action to those of PLP, including targeting cortical reorganization, autonomic nervous system deregulation, stress management, coping ability, and quality-of-life. The authors recommend more and better quality research exploring the efficacy and mechanisms of action.
Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2012 Jan 26. Moura VL, Faurot KR, Gaylord SA, Mann JD, Sill M, Lynch C, Lee MY. From the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (VLM, KRF, SAG, MS, CL, MYL), and Department of Neurology, University of North Carolina at ChapelHill (JDM).