Change in perception of phantom pain

Editor: | 10. December 2018

Change in perception of phantom pain thanks to magnetic stimulation was reported in a case study from 2015 (Grammer et al.). Patient suffering pain in the amputated right upper limb had undergone the treatment.

Based on the results of other studies, this study assumed that phantom pain is associated with change in functions of brain’s sensory cortex. The goal here was, therefore, to try to reverse this change with repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS).

Patient in active duty, whose right arm had been amputated after being hit by an explosion, went through 28 applications of magnetic therapy. Left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and left primary sensory cortex of patient’s brain were directly exposed to the effects.

The magnetic stimulation of left sensory cortex at 1-Hz frequency was applied in the first four applications and then alternated with 10-Hz magnetic stimulation of left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. This is because the left sensory cortex is exactly that part of the brain that corresponds to patient’s injury of his right upper limb.

Patient’s pain decreased by one fifth after 28 applications. This shows that magnetic stimulation of brain can significantly reduce perception of phantom pain and is therefore obvious choice for treatment.

Reference: Grammer, G. G. et al. (2015) Significant reduction in phantom limb pain after low-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation to the primary sensory cortex. Military Medicine. [Online] 180 (1), e126–e128.

Significant Reduction in Phantom Limb Pain After Low-Frequency Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation to the Primary Sensory Cortex

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Related diagnosis: Phantom pain

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