Phantom limb pain: Cortical plasticity and novel therapeutic approaches

Herta Flor, Niels Birbaumer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Phantom limb pain is still a very frequent consequence of peripheral deafferentation or amputation of a limb. Recent findings from animal and neuroimaging studies suggest that phantom limb pain might be a central phenomenon, related to changes in the cortical, thalamic and spinal representation of the painful limb, and might be a type of somatosensory pain memory. Based on these assumptions, new treatment approaches focus on sensory discrimination training or motor cortex stimulation in an effort to influence cortical reorganization. Prevention of perpetuation of a somatosensory pain memory might also be possible through pharmacological agents such as N-methyl-D-aspartate antagonists and γ-aminobutyric acid agonists, substances that have been shown to influence and prevent cortical reorganization. (C) 2000 Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)561-564
Number of pages4
JournalCurrent Opinion in Anaesthesiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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