Treatment of phantom limb pain with muscular relaxation training to disrupt the pain-anxiety-tension cycle

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Abstract

Sixteen phantom limb pain patients were treated with a combination of (1) progressive muscle relaxation exercise, (2) feedback of stump and forehead muscle tension, and (3) reassurance about normal phantom sensations and the relationship between anxiety and pain. Fourteen of the patients had chronic pain (average of 12 years) and two were recent amputees (5- and 1- week). At the end of treatment, 8 of the chronic pateints showed virtually complete relief from pain, 4 showed significant decreases to a point at which they no longer desired treatment and 2 showed no significant change. Both recent amputees showed complete relief from pain. These changes have been sustained for follow-up periods of 6 months to 3 years. The unsuccessful patients did not learn to relax and had strong psychological needs for their pain. s

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