Since the wars start in 2001 through September 2014, over 50,000 troops have been injured in battle. Of them, over 1,500 have had major amputations. When you have an amputation your whole life will change. Normal everyday tasks can become overwhelming and painful for someone who has lost a limb. Not only do you have to cope mentally with the loss, but you now have to also figure out life’s physicality’s without it. Some common conditions that an amputee may suffer from are phantom pains, stress and anxiety, decreased range of motion, muscle tightness, stiffness and spasms, residual limb pain, poor blood circulation, swelling and scar tissue. The good news for veterans and wounded alike, is that medical/therapeutic massage can help in relieving most of those symptoms.
Phantom pains are some of medical’s great mysteries. Phantoms pains are exclusive to amputees and are very subjective to each individual. These pains are not derived from an external stimulus but felt in the part of the limb that is no longer physically there. Amputees have explained the pains as burning, stabbing, twisting, cramping, crushing and throbbing. Studies have indicated that about seventy to eighty percent of amputees will encounter these phantom pains.
U.S. Military Casualty Statistics: OND, OIF, and OEF (Congressional Research Service) September 2014 https://fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RS22452.pdf
- Phantom Pain – All conditions are unique, but this is pain that is caused normally by nerve and brain perception. Normally burning, cramping, stabbing, twisting, crushing or throbbing. This can be relieved by Therapeutic Massage and stretching.
- Muscle Tightness, Stiffness, Spasms – Muscles and joints often have pain in the amputated area, and the over compensative areas that are needed to do daily functions. Therapeutic Massage helps to increase range of motion, and flexibility of these muscles tendons and joints.
- Residual Limb Pain -This is pain in the rest of the amputated part normally, but not limited to tissue damage during surgery, rubbing of the skin, poor prosthetic fittings, and joint dysfunctions. All of these can be effectively treated with Therapeutic Massage.
- Scar Tissue -Scar Tissue is related to surgery or injury in the affected limb/limbs. This can limit and eventually prevent movement. It is less elastic, and thicker than normal skin or tissue. This can result in pain, itching or sensitivity in the limb or areas where amputated. With the massage technique of Scar Tissue Release, we can prevent, maintain and alleviate this scar tissue.
- Poor Blood Circulation -Good circulation is very important for a even recovery. It provides oxygen, and nutrients to the affected area, through the blood. Poor circulation can cause Phantom Pain in the affected limb. Circulation is increased through different massage techniques.
- Swelling – Swelling in a part of the body is very common after surgery, wearing a prosthesis for a long time, or standing for long periods. The swelling can produce excess fluid, pain, numbness tingling sensation, or pins and needles. Manual Lymphatic Drainage, along with our stretching education for amputees, can help to prevent and maintain such swelling.