After limb amputation, phantom pain can be excruciating and difficult to control with drugs. Now a simple new device called a stump stocking may offer relief.
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Researchers speculate that external electromagnetic impulses (as from power lines or electrical devices) irritate nerve endings and trigger phantom pain. They believe that the stump stocking, which consists of a silicone liner interwoven with an electromagnetic shield, works by blocking these impulses.
They tested their theory in a small group of patients with limb amputations. The 22 patients who completed the trial rated their pain as a 3 or higher on a 0-to-10 pain-rating scale on at least 10 days per month. The patients wore the liner with or without the electromagnetic shield in place for 2-week periods and rated their phantom pain six times a day. Both liners reduced pain compared with baseline, but adding the electromagnetic shield was significantly more effective.
The study was supported by medi Bayreuth, a German firm that manufactures the stocking.
Kern U, et al., Management of phantom pain with a textile, electromagnetically-acting stump liner: A randomized, double-blind, crossover study, Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, October 2006.