Biofeedback in the treatment of phantom limb pain: a time-series analysis

Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback. 2005 Mar;30(1):83-93. doi: 10.1007/s10484-005-2177-8.


Phantom limb pain (PLP) is a noxious, painful sensation that is perceived to occur in an amputated limb. It has been reported to occur in up to 85% of amputees. This pilot study examined the effectiveness of biofeedback in the treatment of nine individuals with PLP who received up to seven thermal/autogenic biofeedback sessions over the course of 4-6 weeks. Pain was assessed daily using the visual analog scale (VAS), the sum of the sensory descriptors, and the sum of the affective descriptors of the McGill short form. Interrupted time-series analytical models were created for each of the participants, allowing biofeedback sessions to be modeled as discrete interventions. Analyses of the VAS revealed that a 20% pain reduction was seen in five of the nine patients in the weeks after session 4, and that at least a 30% pain reduction (range: 25-66%) was seen in six of the seven patients in the weeks following session 6. Sensory descriptors of pain decreased more than the affective pain descriptors. These preliminary results provide some support for the use of biofeedback in the treatment of PLP and indicate the need for further, definitive study.

MeSH terms

  • Biofeedback, Psychology / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Phantom Limb / therapy*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Treatment Outcome