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Psychological Factors Associated with Phantom Limb Pain: A Review of Recent Findings

Psychological Factors Associated with Phantom Limb Pain: A Review of Recent Findings

Pain Research and Management 2018: 5080123

Phantom limb pain (PLP) is a common phenomenon occurring after the amputation of a limb and can be accompanied by serious suffering. Psychological factors have been shown to play an important role in other types of chronic pain, where they are pivotal in the acquisition and maintenance of pain symptoms. For PLP, however, the interaction between pain and psychological variables is less well documented. In this review, we summarize research on the role of emotional, motivational, cognitive, and perceptual factors in PLP. The reported findings indicate that emotional factors modulate PLP but might be less important compared to other types of chronic pain. Additional factors such as the amount of disability and adjustment to the amputation appear to also play a role. Bidirectional relationships between stress and PLP have been shown quite consistently, and the potential of stress and tension reduction in PLP treatment could be further exploited. Little is known about the role of cognitive variables such as attention or expectation. Catastrophizing seems to aggravate PLP and could be targeted in treatment. Body perception is altered in PLP and poses a potential target for novel mechanistic treatments. More research on psychological factors and their interactions in PLP is needed.

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Accession: 065446983

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PMID: 30057653

DOI: 10.1155/2018/5080123

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