Support for children and young people with limb differences and their families

Managing pain 

Some children and young people who have undergone an amputation may experience pain during their recovery and beyond. Pain can also be felt by children for other reasons, such as a poorly fitted prosthesis.

Phantom sensation

Some children who have had an amputation may experience ‘phantom sensation’ – the feeling that the limb is ‘still there’. It can present as:

  • pins and needles in the foot or hand that is no longer there
  • the need to scratch an itch
  • a sensation that the limb is still present.

Phantom pain

Some children who have had an amputation will experience phantom pain. Phantom pain is when the brain sends messages through the nerves to the limb that is no longer there.

This occurs less in children whose amputation took place when they were very young. Phantom pain may occur for a range of reasons and can be quite intense. Phantom pain usually subsides over time and wearing a prosthesis or shrinker can help to reduce the number of phantom pain attacks.

Phantom pain can range from mild to severe, can be brief to lengthy in duration and distressing, debilitating and draining.

Ιf your child experiences phantom pain, discuss it with your healthcare team so they can assist with developing a treatment plan. Some people use alternative means for managing phantom pain such as massage, acupuncture, acupressure, and warm or cool compresses.

You should also tell your teachers and explain what it is and how it’s managed.

Prosthetic pain or discomfort

A prosthesis should never cause pain or discomfort. If your child ever tells you that they are experiencing pain in their residual limb it may be because they have outgrown their socket, it doesn’t fit or, in the case of lower limb loss, incorrectly aligned. The more comfortable the fit, the more likely your child will want to wear their prosthesis. Contact your prosthetist immediately if your child says their prosthesis is uncomfortable or causing pain.