50 years in the past, phantom ache was once blamed on misfiring nerves 

Body structure of the phantom limbScience Information, Would possibly 11, 1974 

Just about everyone who has had a leg or arm amputated from time to time stories the feeling or feeling that they nonetheless have their lacking limbs. A few of them revel in ache of their “phantom limbs.” … One assumes that [cut nerves] continuously fireplace off impulses to the central anxious device and … create the feeling of a limb nonetheless being provide…. [Scientists] have now showed that those parties happen, no less than in experimental animals.


The reason for phantom limb ache is extra sophisticated than simply mis­firing nerves. Submit-amputation adjustments within the spinal twine and mind may additionally give a contribution, mounting proof suggests. Treatments comparable to ache relievers and the use of visible comments from mirrors to trick the mind can be offering some aid (SN: 03/02/14). However researchers are nonetheless looking for more practical remedies. In 2019, scientists reported that electrically stimulating nerves close to amputation websites no longer solely helped two males hit upon drive and movement thru a prosthetic leg, but additionally diminished their phantom ache (SN: 09/09/19).

Helen Bradshaw is a spring 2024 science writing intern at Science Information. She graduated from Northwestern College with a bachelor’s level in journalism with a focal point on environmental coverage and tradition.

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