Treatment of chronic phantom limb pain using a trauma-focused psychological approach

C. de Roos, M.A. Veenstra, A. de Jongh, M.E. den Hollander-Gijsman, N.J.A. van der Weer, F.G. Zitman, Y.R. van Rood

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    BACkgRound: Chronic phantom limb pain (PLP) is a disabling
    chronic pain syndrome for which regular pain treatment is seldom effective.
    Pain memories resulting from long-lasting preamputation pain or pain
    flashbacks, which are part of a traumatic memory, are reported to be powerful
    elicitors of PLP.
    oBJeCTiVe: To investigate whether a psychological treatment directed
    at processing the emotional and somatosensory memories associated with
    amputation reduces PLP.
    MeTHodS: Ten consecutive participants (six men and four women)
    with chronic PLP after leg amputation were treated with eye movement
    desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). Pain intensity was assessed during
    a two-week period before and after treatment (mean number of sessions
    = 5.9), and at short- (three months) and long-term (mean 2.8 years)
    ReSuLTS: Multivariate ANOVA for repeated measures revealed an overall
    time effect (F[2, 8]=6.7; P<0.02) for pain intensity. Pairwise comparison
    showed a significant decrease in mean pain score before and after treatment
    (P=0.00), which was maintained three months later. All but two
    participants improved and four were considered to be completely pain free
    at three months follow-up. Of the six participants available at long-term
    follow-up (mean 2.8 years), three were pain free and two had reduced pain
    ConCLuSionS: These preliminary results suggest that, following a
    psychological intervention focused on trauma or pain-related memories,
    substantial long-term reduction of chronic PLP can be achieved. However,
    larger outcome studies are required.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)65-71
    JournalPain Research & Management
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


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