Phantom Pain

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Cannabis and CBD for Phantom Pain 

Phantom limb pain is neuropathic pain that people can experience when they have a limb that is surgically amputated. The pain usually relates to the feeling that the limb is still attached to your body.

The condition has similar consequences for both men and women. It also happens regardless of the size, age or amputation level. Individuals with short pre-amputation pain and those who did not have pain in their limbs the day before amputation have a significantly lower incidence of phantom pain.

What is a Phantom Pain?

Phantom pain is not a psychological problem; it is a real physical disorder where parts of the nervous system that once served an amputated limb-still radiate real PAIN.

Phantom pain is normal in injuries in which breast, penis, eye, and limb are lost after surgery.  In order to recover completely from phantom pain, the ill-fated sections of the nerve need to realize that the body part is gone and knock it off.

Not all pain feels the same. For example, the throbbing of a headache is very different from the sharp pain of a stomach cramp. It is no wonder that the pain of the phantom limb is not the same for everyone. Your pain may feel like it’s:

  • Burning
  • Like there’s “pins and needles”
  • Twisting
  • Crushing
  • Feels there’s an electric shock
  • Shooting

Aside from pain, you may also sense other feelings from a body part that’s no longer there:

  • Movement
  • Temperature
  • Pressure
  • Vibration
  • Itch


Phantom pain is a type of neuropathic pain. This means that the pain is being caused not by a real injury but by a malfunction of the nervous system. Characteristics of phantom pain include:

  • Onset within the first week after amputation, although it may be delayed for months or longer.
  • The pain that comes and goes or is continuous
  • Symptoms affecting the body’s largest part of the limb, such as the foot of an amputated leg
  • Pain can be described as shooting, stabbing, cramping, pinning, crushing, throbbing, or burning.
  •  Sometimes it feels as if the phantom part is forced into an uncomfortable position. May be triggered by pressure on the remaining part of the limb or by emotional stress.

How Cannabis Can Help Relieve the Symptoms of Phantom pain

For some individuals, phantom pain starts getting better over time without being treated. For others, it can be challenging to manage phantom pain.

Since phantom pain may be difficult for doctors to treat, patients are searching for relief from medical cannabis. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) consists of CB1 and CB2 receptors located throughout your body. Researchers believe that the ECS connects the mind and body, promoting a balance or homeostasis. That equilibrium is impaired when you have a health problem, but cannabinoids of cannabis can work with the receptors to restore balance. Since phantom pain involves pain sensation, even when there is no limb in it, experts believe that taking medical marijuana for phantom pain can help to relieve symptoms of the condition. The Neurology study published in 2007 showed that medical cannabis reduced individual pain by more than 30% in just five days.

Medical Cannabis Treatment for Phantom Pain

Phantom pain is routinely treated with painkillers. Due to their addictive nature, long-term use is very dangerous to one’s health. Surprisingly, only 25% of physicians are fully aware of recent advances in research showing that medical marijuana is an effective painkiller. Compounds in marijuana have not only been shown to modulate receptors but regulate other aspects of the nervous system. Current research shows that cannabis can restore or increase awareness of the nervous system, helping the nervous system to accept that a body part has gone and pain is no longer useful.

As Dr. Richard I. Gracer said; “As a physician with extensive practice and specialized expertise in pain management, that marijuana can prove (and has proven) medically useful to at least some chronic pain patients. Accordingly, physicians believe that it should be able to recommend and/or prescribe marijuana to patients for whom it is medically appropriate. For a small number of patients who live in torture and despair, even aggressive opiate therapies are not sufficient. Medical Marijuana can be an effective alternative for such patients.” he said.

Since Phantom pain may be difficult to treat, patients are looking to provide relief to medical cannabis. Work closely with your healthcare team to create and maintain the pain management plan that works for you. Always remember to talk to your physician about your condition

Personalized Cannabis Consultations

Whether you are new to cannabis and need to learn the basics, or are simply trying to achieve more positive cannabis experiences, Veriheal’s coaches are here to help. You have the opportunity to become informed about this wonderful plant. Book an appointment today with one of our compassionate coaches to have a private discussion about your cannabis journey.

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Data Last Updated 03/16/2020