Phantom Pain and Tradicional Chinese Medicine

Hello Readers!

Today I am going to write about Phantom Pain.

Phantom pain is pain related to amputations, which can be of two types.

– Phantom limb pain – Unpleasant sensation in the limb that no longer exists due to amputation.

– Pain in the amputation stump – Related to the place where the limb was amputated (stump).

In Western medicine, these pains have little explanation and most of them refer to a sensation generated by neurons that are distributed throughout the body.

In Chinese Medicine, the phantom pain happens because despite the amputation, the energy of that member continues to exist, as in the case of removed internal organs, such as Spleen, Vesicle, Uterus, among others.

We will give the example of the organs. In Chinese Medicine, when you remove an organ, the energy meridian that passes through it continues to exist, so, even if its physical part no longer exists, the functions of this organ, in part, continue to exist because who coordinates them is the energy of the meridian that passes through there. In some cases, the patient may experience symptoms of deficiency of the organ removed in the first months after surgery.

With an affected member, the story is no different. Acupuncture meridians continue to exist even after amputation. This is due to the fact that the energies are interconnected, and meridians that start at the head will end at the foot. Others that start at the foot will have their continuity in the chest. Thus, energetic sensations continue to exist until that energy is rebalanced.

How can we rebalance the energy of the phantom limb?

In Chinese Medicine, we know that the “high” controls the “low”, the “anterior” controls the “posterior” and the “right” controls the “left”.

The first step in eliminating phantom pain is to use needles that control pain on the unamputed side. Good examples are the points: ST-36, GB-34, GB-39, SP-6, for the lower limbs and LI-4, SJ-5, SJ-8, LI-11 and LI-14 for the upper limbs.

In addition to this option, we can work on the meridians that would reach the affected member. For example: Spleen, Stomach, Kidney, Bladder, Liver and Gallbladder meridians have points on the upper body, their points can be used in lower limb amputations, as the energy will circulate throughout the meridian.

The Lung, Large Intestine, Heart, Small Intestine, Pericardium and San Jiao have points on the head and / or trunk and can work pains in upper limb amputations.

It is also important to use points that calm the mind and that stimulate the Central Nervous System to understand the new bodily form, such as PC-6, GV-24, ST-8, GB-13.

So,  it is necessary that the therapist who takes care of amputated people and with phantom pain, understand the need to treat the limb as if it were still there, always stimulating the energetic rebalancing of the whole body.

When it comes to pain in the surgical stump, it is important to stimulate nerve endings, through the use of moxa, needles, magnetotherapy and a suction cup when possible, reconnecting local energies.

Whenever there is a scar, the possibility exists that it is toxic, that is, to interrupt the flow of energy from the meridians. Thus, when stimulated, the energy returns to circulate in a harmonic way, interrupting the pain.

There is still much to be said and studied about phantom pain, but it is certain that acupuncture can help everyone who suffers from this problem.

Hope this helps!

A big hug to everyone!

Profa. Fernanda Mara