Approximately 60 to 80 % of individuals who have undergone amputations report phantom limb sensation. Phantom sensation is also observed in those who are born without limbs and in those who are paralyzed.
The phantom limb feels shorter, distorted and, is often, painful. The pain occurs intermittently, can be quite agonizing and is aggravated by stress, anxiety and by weather changes. The frequency of painful attacks usually decreases with time.
Pain is not reported by all the amputees, however, various types of phantom sensations, have been reported such as itches, twitching, tightness, burning, gesturing or even as if they are picking up something. A phantom sensation has been reported after removal of breast, tooth and eye.
During the past two decades, doctors have attempted to treat phantom limb pain with a variety of methods including antidepressants, spinal cord stimulation, hypnosis, acupuncture and biofeedback.