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Prevalence and characteristics of phantom limb pain and residual limb pain in the long term after upper limb amputation

Desmond, Deirdre M.a b; MacLachlan, Malcolmb c

International Journal of Rehabilitation Research: September 2010 - Volume 33 - Issue 3 - p 279-282
doi: 10.1097/MRR.0b013e328336388d
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This study aims to describe the prevalence and characteristics of phantom limb pain and residual limb pain after upper limb amputation. One-hundred and forty-one participants (139 males; mean age 74.8 years; mean time since amputation 50.1 years) completed a self-report questionnaire assessing residual and phantom limb pain experience. Prevalence of phantom limb pain during the week preceding assessment was 42.6% (60 of 141). Prevalence of residual limb pain was 43.3% (61 of 141). More than one third of these had some pain constantly or most days. Phantom limb pain was commonly described as ‘discomforting’ (31 of 60) and associated with ‘a little bit’ of lifestyle interference (23 of 60). Residual limb pain was most often described as ‘discomforting’ (27 of 61) or ‘distressing’ (19 of 61) and was typically associated with low to moderate levels of lifestyle interference. Assessment of multiple dimensions of postamputation pain in the long term after upper limb amputation is warranted.

aDepartment of Psychology, National University of Ireland Maynooth, Maynooth, Co. Kildare

bDublin Psychoprosthetics Group

cSchool of Psychology, University of Dublin, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland

Correspondence to Dr Deirdre M. Desmond, Department of Psychology, John Hume Building, National University of Ireland Maynooth, Maynooth, Co. Kildare, Ireland

Tel: +353 1 708 6479; fax: +353 1 708 4767;

e-mail: Deirdre.Desmond@nuim.ie

Received 30 June 2009 Accepted 10 November 2009

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.