Phantom limb pain perceived the same by patients with and without diabetes

There is no significant difference in the prevalence or intensity of phantom limb pain experienced by patients with diabetes compared with those without diabetes, according to a study published in the journal Pain.

The researchers administered a questionnaire by mail to people who had recently undergone a lower limb amputation. Complete responses were received from 102 participants, and those responses were categorized by patients with self-reported diabetes and those without diabetes. The diabetic group was further divided into participants who had long-duration diabetes (>10 years) and short-duration diabetes (< 10 years).

The overall prevalence of phantom limb pain was 85.6%, and the researchers found no significant difference between the diabetic (82%) and nondiabetic groups (89.4%). There was also no significant difference in the prevalence of phantom sensations, such as itching or pins and needles originating from the phantom limb, the characteristics of phantom limb pain were similar for both groups, with sharp/stabbing pain being the most common, and there was no correlation between the length of time since diagnosis of diabetes and pain intensity.

“It seems that peripheral factors may play a lesser role than previously thought in [phantom limb pain’s] pathogenesis,” the authors wrote in the study. “Our data confirm this clinically, by demonstrating that neither the presence of diabetes nor the duration of diabetes had any effect on patient experiences of phantom limb pain.”

For more information:

Clark RL. Pain. 2013; doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2013.01.009.

Disclosure: The authors have no relevant financial disclosures.

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