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Phantom
Pain

Phantom pain - missing limbs and organs.

One of the reasons you may develop chronic pain is a history of multiple injuries or past trauma.

Al is a 54-year-old male, who had a severe accident at work resulting in his right leg being amputated above the knee, this happened in 1991. More recently he suffered another trauma falling in the shower, severely damaging his right hip, made worse by being home alone, lying on the bathroom floor for over seven hours. In our history taking at our first consultation Al could also recall several painful instances preceding his accident, even in childhood.

Although his accident was in 1991 he was diagnosed with

chronic pain syndrome in 2001.

He came to me with a wish to resolve "constant pain", as a result of his original loss of limb resulting in phantom limb pain and the more recent chronic hip injury. Below he tells of his experience of being treated by me.

A client’s experience of phantom pain and hip injury

– Al’s journey 

“I became a client of Jean Jordan at the Pain, Stress and Anxiety Clinic, in Christchurch, quite by accident, and most fortuitous turn of events it would become. At the time I has been a chronic pain sufferer over 20 years and was currently enrolled in an ACC sponsored pain management program with a large organisation, involving medical (drug prescription), physiological and psychological therapeutic interventions for approximately 10 months. It would be fair to say I had only limited success during this time.

 

Try a natural treatment for pain

During a quite bad flare-up a colleague suggested that I might want to try Jean as he had discussed my situation and believed she may be able to help me. I was skeptical at first as I had been on the ACC rollercoasters of relapse-rehab-recovery, relapse-rehab-recovery several times over the years, and been enrolled in various programs with very limited success. However I decided I had nothing to lose by meeting with her and seen what she might offer.

 

Should I try one more chronic pain treatment

- however different

I had never worked with a natural therapist or even knew what it involved so was quite curious. Being more used to the conventional ACC medically recognised programs it would be fair to say some of Jean’s methods seemed a little ‘out there’ to begin with, but to my pleasant surprise they seemed to be working.

Improvement and changes in my chronic pain over four months

Through maybe 12 to 14 sessions over approximately 4 month period Jean introduced me to some simple life changes and cool easy to do mental exercises and techniques that I could use to help me control the impact of stress, anxiety and ultimately pain.

 

Jean also gave me advice on how my diet and lifestyle could be increasing pain and  my tolerance of it. With simple dietary changes and education of what minerals and vitamins in certain foods and why my body needed these to better manage or have less occurrences of uncontrollable pain symptoms.

 

 

Empowered to help manage his pain

Through meeting Jean and fully embracing all aspects of her sessions and acting on the simple advice given by her, or using the simple daily exercises for my brain and central nervous system, I feel I now have more complete understanding of my pain issues and a better set of tools to control them.

 

After years of relapses and involvement in more conventional programs or methods approved by ACC, with limited results I now feel empowered and better prepared with the tools I can use as a result of visiting Jean’s clinic.

I'm happier and a more positive person

I would highly recommend Jean Jordan for anyone struggling with pain, stress or anxiety issues and the huge impact these things can have on living a productive and happy life. My sessions with Jean and the simple advice and understanding she has provided have made me a happier more positive person, who feels more optimistic about the future and less concerned about being impacted by pain and associated stresses and anxieties.

 

If you suffer from any of these three evils, pain, anxiety or stress, or even all of them I strongly suggest you contact Jean you won't regret it, I don't that's for sure.”

 

Jean's clinical takeaways from Al’s journey

It was a joy to listen to Al describe the changes both physical and mental, the reduction in his pain levels, boasting that he only took ‘few’ medications at nighttime when he presented me with this testimonial. Maybe there was opportunity for more reduction in the future, with his now positive attitude.

 

When I first met Al he was extremely anxious, yes due to the pain but it also recently been told that his pain would only worsen, as he got older. With that conversation resounding in his mind in addition to the cognitive issues of chronic pain such as, poor concentration and, especially poor memory was scaring him immensely.

 

Here’s an important takeaway for you to consider.

 

 

DON’T GIVE UP ON PAIN RELIEF – BUT DO EXPECT CHANGES

 

I appreciate Al writing this testimonial giving you a patient's perspective on how I work within my pain clinic, when I see people face-to-face in my Christchurch clinic in New Zealand.

 

More Information About Phantom Pain

 

By way of explanation I'd like to add some general information about phantom pain. Phantom limb pain has intrigued the chronic pain community for decades, probably centuries. It could be easy to dismiss phantom limb pain as impossible as there is no limb to have physical pain and I would hazard a guess that this has happened to some people in the past.

 

Is Phantom Pain Real?

 

Indeed, what's in a name, phantom which by dictionary definition, is a “figment of the imagination”. Although I go into more detail in my recent blog about phantom pain not just about limb pain, what I’d like to provide here is assurance to other sufferers of phantom pain who may run the risk of being told that their phantom pain is none existent and they are making it up.

Today there is ample research and knowledge to give assurance and understanding to those of you who have a ‘non-existent’ body part being painful. Though when I compare my research (open research so it's available outside academia) into surgical pain after hysterectomy, mastectomy or other body parts and organs that are surgically removed, much of the research is not as up-to-date compared to other medical areas or other types of chronic pain.

 

Women With Phantom Pain After Surgical Removal Of Body Parts

 

However, despite a lack of research, the women are there, and so is their phantom pain that they live with on a daily basis after surgery. Sometimes lasting for years. They live with phantom pain, such as phantom hysterectomy pain, phantom breast pain, phantom uterus pain and more. 

 

These women often go online searching for answers and support.

 

Can there be a lack of discussion about possible post-surgery outcomes?

Can You Have Phantom Pains After A Hysterectomy Surgery?

I'm not sure if there is enough discussion with the patient about the possible outcomes following a hysterectomy operation. Residual pain can extend beyond the normal healing period or chronic pain can start years later. Not only can the women have chronic pain but strange weird sensations around body parts they no longer have. Hence I have used the idea often used of using the word 'phantom' in various parts of their pelvic area.

  • Phantom pain hysterectomy

  • Phantom period pain 

  • Phantom uterus pain

  • Phantom cramps after hysterectomy

  • Weird phantom sensations that can seem difficult to understand and not cause anxiety

These days many women undergo mastectomy or hysterectomy which can cause long term pain. This may be due to nerves damaged during an operation, but it’s important we also consider the emotional impact these operations.  

 

There is also the impact post-surgery pain can have not only on the woman involved, but their whole family. Stress over a period of time can amplify the physical and practical experience at the time of operation and the recovery period.

 

Multimodal Approach To Treating Chronic Pain

And All Types of Phantom Pain

 

Any type of ongoing phantom pain presents similar problems as chronic pain and can respond to the multimodal approach that starts with information and education and goes on to include self-care and self-help techniques that worked so well for Al's phantom limb pain in the testimonial above.

"I hope this information provides a starting point to understanding phantom pain, particularly when it becomes chronic pain and impacts lives."

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