This is by far the best visualization for my phantom pains that I have seen so far.
My phantoms are
- burning, after being like fireworks for a while now they burn,
- cold, and dripping wet, just like the phantom sensations that I have, but painfully so,
- sudden or almost sudden,
- aching, pulling and twisting,
- second nature - strange, yes.
Hard to explain? Yes. There are a few triggers, as I get synaesthetic pains, something you surely do not want to even think about. Leave alone the consequences. But this visualizes it well.
Treatment? Forget treatment. My phantom hand is as rigid as they ever come - the pre-amputation hand was paralysed partly, seriously damaged, extremely painful and with that, mirror therapy is contra-indicated as some phantom hand flexibility is required. To no surprise, an attempt at mirror therapy significantly worsened the phantom pains for me. Drugs are not an option as I maintain my ability to drive and to compete in sports proudly. Pride and self determination go a very long way with me.
Is it bad? All things are relative. The phantom and stump pains now are a mere fraction of the pains I had beforehand (tumor getting "out of hand", untreated thrombosis of blood vessels inside the hand, massive inflammatory reaction to deep sutures). I then had to decide between two types of hell: hell "A" and hell "b" - with hell "A" being a remaining paralysed damaged thrombosed and inflamed, extremely painful hand with an unclear nodular tumorous process spreading and some people poking around in it that I would never even have wanted near me in a healthy state leave alone then, people that obviously then and even more now in hindsight did not know at all really what they were doing inside my hand as such and, also, with me as person and as individual patient, as suffering biography with a clear interest to free himself of such issues - and hell "b" with an amputation that would entail probable cure of whatever was spreading there, definite pain reduction (as discussed here) and plannable rather than un-plannable problems. Not at all cool options though but not impossible to decide which was clear for me after 6 months of ongoing Aerger. And so phantom pains are part of the hell "b" deal - overseeable, manageable, contained not as such but in relation to the previous situation. If I sit down to look for adequate visualization THAT is how it would look like:
I would change the flame color to something cold - bright blue, green, purple - but my pains are cold burning. Since a few months the pain endures for a while whereas beforehand it only popped up like fireworks. At the same time as the phantom pains started, my brain started to manage major suppression of pain all throughout my body. The phantom pains are so massive that if someone unprepared got them accidentally or out of the blue, I would seriously understand if they committed suicide right then and there They are seriously massive. Yet they are so everyday, so constant and so little variation that often my brain can manage and I don't realize a lot of it.
In my instance these pains pale entirely in comparison with the pains I had before the amputation with a marginally perfused middle hand with thrombosed vessels after some major mishap (which was paid for by accident insurance later), while thrombosis was neither diagnosed nor treated by the specialist doctors in charge, with expanding tumorous nodules and serious inflammation around all deep sutures - an issue known with ETHICON material but equally ignored at the time by the specialist surgeons in charge. A later review revealed what all was to be expected and missed, what all was documented already in previous path reports, but then it was a bit late for pain treatment.
So my amputation solved some biological issues but as pains were not cared for beforehand, phantom pains remain now that are so extreme that my brain's suppression is equally extreme. I am not taking medication.
A side effect of extreme brain pain suppression became apparent in February: I got a serious Herpes Zoster outbreak while having H1N1 pig flu with my immune system down this winter. Until after a week or so had passed I saw the rash alright but I did not even notice the Herpes Zoster as "particularly painful" - definitely not enough painful to disturb my sleep. Then, I went "hm" but after only another week the pains did not manage to cause my internal alarms to go off in any way. I had a few weeks of post herpetic pain but that was not impressive either.
Not many people realize that when I really hurt the reason for it would have probably made any other person keel over altogether.