At one time, surgeons thought that phantom limb pain was a hoax. Really, doctors thought patients were making it up. They were crazy. It was all in their heads. Well, in fact it is in their heads, in a way.
There is an old saying that "pain is in the brain." That is certainly true with any amputation leading to phantom limb pain. For example, we now know that there are several factors that can influence the risk of developing severe, debilitating phantom limb pain after an amputation.
The first is pre-operative pain control. For some reason, patients that suffer with poorly controlled pain just before the limb is amputated will have a higher chance of developing phantom limb pain. We also know that "control" has an influence as well. For example, if you think that a diabetic limb amputation is inevitable, and you actually get to have some say in the decision making process, your chances of having phantom pain goes down. If however, you feel you had no control or perceive you were forced into it, you willbe more likely to develop phantom limb symptoms.
We also think that your perception of post-amputation disability can have an impact. If you have worked with an orthotists and feel you be able to recover, walk and enjoy life, your risk of post-op chronic phantom pain goes down.
Knowing this, you must work with your doctor to decrease your chances of developing phantom limb pain. You must report pain and be honest about how much your foot or leg hurts in the time leading up to the operation. Pain medicine and local infusions of numbing agents can be very successful in controlling your pain before the amputation. You won't get a medal (but might get phantom pain) for trying to "tough it out" through the pain. Be smart. Control the pain.
Join an amputee support group and get counseling so yo can meet other amputees who have gotten their lives back after a diabetic leg amputation. Don't just rot away in a wheel chair parked in front of a television.
Meet with a specialist in prosthetics to get an understanding of limb prosthesis advances and options. I can personaly say that the devices are amazing. I was once passed by an amputee at Ironman Arizona. That race is 140.6 miles. All in one day. And for that person, on one leg. You can stay active too. Don't let diabetes (or even an amputation) get you down.
Dr. Christopher Segler believes diabetic amputations are preventable. He teaches strategies that help his clients avoid amputation. He is also and award-winning diabetic foot surgeon, inventor and author. If you have diabetes, you can learn how to avoid amputation by more by requesting your FREE report “No Leg Left To Stand On: The Secrets Insurance Companies Don’t Want You To Know About Diabetic Foot Amputation” at http://www.ineedmyfeet.com.