Incidence of phantom phenomena including phantom limb pain 6 months after major lower limb amputation in patients with peripheral vascular disease

Clin J Pain. 2006 May;22(4):353-8. doi: 10.1097/


Objectives: Contentions exist regarding the true incidence of phantom limb pain (PLP) and other associated post-amputation phenomena. Recognizing and understanding these phenomena would assist in the rehabilitation of amputees. This study was designed to investigate all post-amputation phenomena in a homogenous group of amputees.

Methods: Prospective amputees were recruited prior to amputation of a lower limb due to peripheral vascular disease. All survivors were followed 6 months after surgery and interviewed to identify post-amputation phenomena, including phantom sensations, PLP, and stump pain.

Results: Sixty amputees were recruited and 52 survived until the 6-month interview. Phantom sensations were universal, and aspects of the non-painful phenomena, including kinetic, kinesthetic, and exteroceptive components, were identified at varying rates within the sample. PLP was found in 78.8% of the survivors, and 51.2% had stump pain. Super-added phenomena occurred in 15.4%. Links were found between PLP and stump pain (P=0.01) and PLP and the ability to move the phantom (P=0.01). No link was found between PLP and telescoping of the phantom (P=0.47).

Conclusions: Phantom phenomena are associated with many myths. This study starts to unravel myth from fact, but further study is required before this enigmatic condition and its influence on rehabilitation are fully understood.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Amputation / methods*
  • Amputation Stumps*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Lower Extremity / physiopathology
  • Lower Extremity / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement / methods
  • Peripheral Vascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Peripheral Vascular Diseases / etiology
  • Peripheral Vascular Diseases / surgery*
  • Phantom Limb / psychology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Time Factors