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Health Agencies Update
November 21, 2001

Stump, "Phantom" Pain Differ

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JAMA. 2001;286(19):2390. doi:10.1001/jama.286.19.2390-JHA10011-2-1

Most people with amputated limbs, up to 80%, feel pain in their stumps or in the area of the missing limbs. New research concludes that the two types of pain are separate sensations. Stump pain originates in damaged nerves near the site of injury, while "phantom" pain begins and ends in the brain, according to results presented at the American Society of Anesthesiologists annual meeting in New Orleans.

This bifurcation in pain origin means that treatment can be better tailored, said Srinivasa N. Raja, MD, Johns Hopkins professor and lead author. Until now, he said, "treatment of phantom and stump pain has been disappointing, in part due to the uncertain nature of the mechanisms" responsible for each type.

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