Phantom limb pain (PLP) may be defined as the conscious feeling of severe pain in a part of your amputated arm or leg. It’s most common in arms and legs, but some people will feel it when they have other body parts removed, such as a breast. In Carlen’s study, 50% of those patients complaining of pain described it as constant knife jabs or a strong electrical current, 12% felt as though the limb was on fire, and others described sensations such as crushing and bad cramps. Phantom limb pain is estimated to be experienced in 3% to 5% of the amputee population. Since these patients are usually in extreme distress (some have been known to commit suicide), it is of paramount importance that its mechanism of control be understood and an effective cure be discovered.
PLP occurs in 50% and 80% of amputees. Although it is often classified as a neuropathic pain, few of the large-scale trials of treatments for neuropathic pain included sufficient numbers of PLP sufferers to have confidence that they are effective in this condition. Many therapies have been administered to amputees with PLP over the years; however, as of yet, there appears to be no first-line treatment.
Over 200,000 traumatic and surgical amputations occur annually within the U.S. alone and over 1.6 million Americans are currently living with an amputated limb. The incidence of phantom limb pain ranges from 50 – 95% and is usually described as “shooting, stabbing, boring, squeezing, throbbing, and burning”.
There are three main theories that attempt to describe the mechanism behind S. Weir Mitchells phantom limbs. They are the Central or Gate theory, the Peripheral theory, and the Psychologic theory.
Although no medications exist specifically for phantom pain, some drugs designed to treat other conditions have been helpful in relieving nerve pain. However, various treatment options are available for curing PLP.
The global market for phantom limb pain treatment can be segmented on basis of treatment, drug class, end users and geography:
- Segmentation by Treatment
- Electrical Stimulation
- Dorsal Column Stimulation
- Pharmacological Treatment
- Biofeedback Treatment
- Psychological Management
- Segmentation by Drug Class
- Antidepressants (tricyclic)
- NMDA receptor antagonists
- Local anesthetics
- Serotonin reuptake inhibitors
- Segmentation by End Users
- Ambulatory Surgical Centers
- Neurological Centers and Research Institutions
- Emergency Rooms
On the basis of regional presence, the global phantom limb pain treatment market can be segmented into five key regions viz. North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and Middle East & Africa. North America and Europe are collectively expected to dominate the global phantom limb pain treatment market due to the increasing awareness and inclination of hospitals towards technological advancement of medical treatment and favorable reimbursement. However, APAC is expected to witness delayed growth in this market due to the unawareness of suitable treatment.
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Pfizer Inc., Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc., Mylan Pharmaceuticals and Alcaliber S.A., are among the few companies operating in this field.