Do quadriplegics feel phantom pains?

If a quadriplegic has to have a limb amputated, do they feel phantom pain afterwards or not? Are there documented cases of this phenomena ?

It’s certainly possible, with or without amputation. I have a complete spinal cord injury at T-8 and no possible way to feel my legs, and I have phantom pain. The ball of my left foot has a constant burning sensation. It would still be there if my leg were amputated. Someone with an incomplete injury may feel real or phantom pain in a limb, and phantom pain if it’s removed.

Odd, sorry to hear about what happened to you. What DID happen if you don’t mind me asking?

Laid my motorcycle down on a mountain road and hit my back on the rocky shoulder.

Even some people born without limbs experience phantom pains. What happens (at least in some cases) is that the brain rewires so that when you brush another part of their body, they feel that sensation on that part and within the phantom limb. With arms and hands, the sensations are often left in the cheeks and with missing feet/legs, the sensation is often felt in the genitals. I was reading a case of a man who had his foot amputated and he now had orgasms which seemed to orgininate within his missing foot which he reported to be better than the orgasms he had had before he had his foot amputated.

I have T5 paraplegia (Hey there, yoyodyne) and get them in my legs at times. It can be anything from what feels like tingling, to painful bending and twisting. Of course nothing is happening, it just “feels” like it. I’ll also occasionally get an itch on a numb part of my back. I’m not sure if it’s actually an itch, or my imagination.

The (simplistic?) explanation I got in the hospital is that the brain is sending signals through the body, and then when the signal to my legs goes to the spot of my spinal cord injury, and can’t get to my legs, the signal will come back that something is wrong, and I perceive pain. Perhaps a medical professional will be along to clean up that explanation.

Say what?

A quadriplegic doesn’t have any limbs left for another amputation. :rolleyes:

He may feel phantom pain in any of the original four if they were amputated.
If that way from birth I doubt that there would be any phantom pain as no nerves were cut.

I’m sorry to hear you are down. I had a bike wreak in '89 outside of Daytona when a girl ran a stop sign and I broadsided her truck. I had extensive injuries to all extremities, lost my right leg, compressed some disks in the C4-6 area. I came home from the hospital four months later with in-home care for another month but I am walking with a right side BK prosthesis and a left leg brace so mine is a scraped elbow next to yours but I think I have a glimmer of insight, albeit a very small one.
As to phantom pain, yeah, I get it but not just pain. Sometimes a light burning, or a twinge. I see it as the wiring that begins in the brain has been cut short of the original destination so any stimulation to the new terminus is registered in the brain as coming from the original location. Also a little weird, I can still “curl” and spread my toes on that side, or at least it feels like it.

What are you talking about?

:smack: Obviously my keyboard(brain) was running wild.
My apologies to all.

It’s all good, my good man or woman. :slight_smile:

Dignan, there is a lot of evidence that suggests that that is not what causes the phantom pains. Surgeons have tried cutting into the spinal cord to prevent the signals from going back to the brain but they have found it ineffective in treating phantom pain. As I mentioned earlier, there is a lot of evidence that suggests that the brain can rewire so that you “feel” your limb in another body party. If your limb has been reworked to end up on your cheek, then whenever you’d smile, the “hand” area would light up giving you the feeling of it still existing.

As for being able to “feel” your arm moving, this is not found in all patients who experience phantom limbs. Some individuals feel as though their missing limbs are fixed in position. This often corresponds to the condition of the limb before it was removed. If a person’s limb was paralyzed before removal, they generally don’t report any movements in their phantom limb. This results from the way that actions are carried out in the brain. I don’t know enough of the details to explain exactly why this happens other than numerous pathways are involved whenever you command yourself to move a limb and then move it. (When I go home I can look it up for you) Here is an interesting case of a man who learned to move his phantom limb. In his book “Phantoms in the Brain” Ramachandran discusses this case in more detail. The man used the device so much that he “lost” the feeling of his phantom arm. He used to have horrible pain in his elbow but once the phantom arm disappeared, the pain in the missing elbow went away too. Instead, he felt his missing fingers attached directly to his shoulder.

Dr Ramachandran also says that the phantom pain might result from faulty rewiring. He says that perhaps the input for touch gets attached to a pain center. If a person’s phantom limb were felt in his cheek, then touching the cheek even very lightly could result in massive pain in the phantom limb. The book is full of even more neat stories and theories about how the brain works. It’s one of the best on the subject I’ve ever read.

That book sounds fascinating, kimera. (yeah, I’m posting to flag it for future reference. :wink: )