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Explore (NY). 2014 Nov-Dec;10(6):389-97. doi: 10.1016/j.explore.2014.08.003. Epub 2014 Aug 20.

Phantom limb pain: an energy/trauma model.

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Director, Integrative Medicine Task Force, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Charlestown, MA; Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA. Electronic address:


Phantom limb pain (PLP) is a form of chronic neuropathic pain that responds poorly to treatment interventions derived from the neuroanatomic understanding of pain and analgesia. Several new psychological and behavioral treatments that have proven more effective have been explained by invoking neural plasticity as their mechanism of action. Other novel treatments that are based on an "energy medicine" model also appear to be quite effective, especially when addressing the psychological trauma of the amputation itself, a factor that is generally overlooked in the standard surgical approach to limb amputation. A speculative trauma/energy model for the etiology of PLP is proposed. This model is developed in some detail, and its utility in explaining several anomalous aspects of PLP, as well as the clinical efficacy of energy therapies, is outlined. This model is proposed as a step in the development of simple and effective energy/trauma treatment protocols for this widespread and largely treatment-resistant disorder.


EFT; PTSD; chronic pain; energy psychology; phantom pain; trauma

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