Phantom limb pain: a nursing perspective
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Phantom limb pain: a nursing perspective

Anila Virani Doctoral student, Faculty of Nursing, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada
Theresa Green Associate professor, Faculty of Nursing, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada
Tanvir C Turin Associate professor, Department of Family Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada

Phantom limb pain (PLP) is a neuropathic pain condition occurring after amputation of a limb. PLP affects amputees’ quality of life and results in loss of productivity and psychological distress. The origin of pain from a non-existing limb creates a challenging situation for both patients and nurses. It is imperative to provide patients and nurses with the knowledge that PLP is a real phenomenon that requires care and treatment. This knowledge will lead to reduced problems for patients by allowing them to talk about PLP and ask for help when needed. Understanding of this phenomenon will enable nurses to appreciate the unique features of this form of neuropathic pain and apply appropriate techniques to promote effective pain management. Performing accurate and frequent assessments to understand the unique characteristics of PLP, displaying a non-judgemental attitude towards patients and teaching throughout the peri-operative process are significant nursing interventions.


Nursing Standard. 29, 1,44-50. doi: 10.7748/ns.29.1.44.e8730

Received: 07 January 2014

Accepted: 19 March 2014

Published in print: 03 September 2014

Peer review

This article has been subject to double blind peer review