Year 2019, Volume 48, Issue 3

Effectiveness of Physical therapy modalities in phantom limb pain: a qualitative systematic review

García-Lafuente M, Veiga-Agüeros F, Cerezo-Téllez E.


Background: phantom limb pain (PLP) is any painful sensation referred to the absent limb, which has been partially or totally removed. The aetiology and physiopathology of PLP are not clear. There are some theories that propose answers to this phenomenon’s questions. Both the Peripheral Nervous System and Central Nervous System seems to be implicated. The treatment for the PLP has approaches from different health disciplines, such as medicine, pharmacology, psychology, and physiotherapy. Objective: the main objective of this study is to know the effectiveness of the treatments of physiotherapy in the management of phantom limb pain in amputees. Material and method: a systematic review completed in the data bases of PubMed, Cochrane, PEDro and SciELO was carried out. Articles selected were clinical trials, case reports and observational studies published from 2009 until now, that explain therapies or treatments of physiotherapy in amputees with phantom limb pain. Results: 15 studies were included in this systematic review. Despite of the heterogeneity in the sample size, variables and treatments, the results were positive for the decrease of phantom limb pain after intervention. Conclusion: physical therapy treatments may be effectives in reducing the phantom limb pain in most of amputee patients; nevertheless, more studies with RCS design are necessary to determine its effectiveness.

Keywords: amputation, phantom limb, physical therapy modalities.