Everything you need to know about Phantom Limb Pain

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Last updated:
Charlotte Rankin

Senior Associate Solicitor, Serious Injury Claims

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Phantom limb pain is when someone experiences pain that seems to come from a limb or finger or toe that isn’t there because of an amputation. For most, phantom limb pain will be temporary and get better over time but this isn’t always the case. It is a recognised form of chronic neuropathic pain.

Losing a limb is a life-changing event and it is sadly relatively common in the UK. Every year, there are 10,000 amputations that take place, and up to 200,000 amputees living in the UK,. If you have had to have an amputation due to an accident, you may be able to claim compensation. This can be from anything such as an accident at work, road traffic accident, personal injury or even a medical negligence occurrence that has happened.

Our specialist major trauma team have helped many people get their lives back on track after they’ve had an amputation following a serious injury. We can help you access the compensation and rehabilitation you need to get through your phantom limb pain.

Get in touch with our Personal Injury Solicitors for a free claims assessment.

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What Causes Phantom Limb Pain? 

It’s not known exactly what causes phantom limb pain. When nerves are injured during an amputation, this can affect the brain’s ability to send messages to other parts of the body.

As nerves are used to pass messages from the brain to the limbs, a disruption to the nerves can cause the brain to become confused and create an illusion of a phantom limb. Medical research has shown that these sensations are in fact very real linked to the brain and spinal cord.

Even though the person with the amputation knows that the limb is no longer there, phantom limb pain feels very real and it can be very debilitating. Sadly, our experience is that many people suffering from phantom limb pains are not believed, and this can increase anxiety levels and depression.


Phantom limb pain symptoms can include:

  • Burning sensations
  • Stabbing pains
  • Pressure
  • Cramps
  • Pins and needles
  • Itching


Symptoms can vary from person to person, and they won’t always happen right after surgery. Even a partial amputation of a finger or toe can trigger phantom limb pain which can also be intense and disabling in its effects. 

As well as dealing with amputation injuries of the utmost severity, we also frequently act for people who have suffered intrusive phantom pain following the amputation of a finger or toe where we've successfully obtained a package of treatment and support and a high award of damages compensation.

If you’re still experiencing phantom limb pain following an amputation, please don’t suffer in silence. Contact us for a free claims assessment to see if we can help you get treatment for your phantom limb pain.

Treating Phantom Limb Pain

There are a range of different treatments you can try if you’re experiencing phantom limb pain.

Different people will find certain treatments more effective than others. A combination of different treatment is often needed to obtain optimum pain relief and help cope with the pain which is why it is important to seek expert legal advice if your injury has arisen from an accident that was not your fault. This will mean your solicitor can get you access to a programme of treatment specifically tailored to your needs.

Rehabilitation support can make sure you’re as mobile and pain-free as possible. So, we’ll consider how much this when we’re valuing your compensation claim.


You could be treated by any one or more of the following professionals:

  • Prosthetic rehabilitation Specialist- Prosthetics can help people return to the same activities and hobbies they enjoyed before they were injured. We work with prosthetic specialists at the cutting edge of technology to make sure you receive the best possible results.
  • Physiotherapist- To help you if you’re suffering physical problems such as restrictive movement, balance, weakness, stiffness or poor coordination.
  • Occupational Therapist (OT)- An OT can help you make changes to your home where necessary and help you if you’re planning to return to work.
  • Psychological Therapist- The emotional impact of an amputation can be just as significant as the physical effects, so we want to make sure get the psychological treatment you may need, such as cognitive behavioural therapy.
  • Accommodation Expert – an accommodation expert can help give advice on suitable alternative accommodation, if needed.


How Simpson Millar Can Help You

Our Personal Injury Solicitors specialise in amputation claims for all kinds of accidents and injury – whether it is at work, through medical negligence, military accidents, or in a road traffic accident. All we care about is getting you back to as close to your previous life as possible, and by this, we ensure that the best care out there is available to you.

We understand that taking legal action can seem daunting, and a long process – but we pride ourselves on our friendly and supportive approach. When you come to us, you can expect a personal service tailored to you and your needs. Just call us on 0808 239 3227, and let us help you.

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Charlotte Rankin

Senior Associate Solicitor, Serious Injury Claims

Areas of Expertise:
Personal Injury

Charlotte handles a caseload of Personal Injury cases dealing with Serious Injury, and has particular interest in Upper and Lower Limb disorders including Amputation of toes and fingers.

Charlotte also has management experience alongside her extensive legal knowledge, and regularly participates in Simpson Millar’s internal mentoring scheme.


National Center for Biotechnology Information. (2016). Phantom Limb Pain. In StatPearls. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK448188/#:~:text=Phantom%20limb%20pain%20is%20the,underlying%20pathophysiology%20remains%20poorly%20understood

NHS England. (2018). Hand and Upper Limb Reconstruction Using Vascularized Composite Allotransplantation. Retrieved from https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Hand-and-upper-limb-reconstruction-using-vascularised-composite-allotransplantation.pdf

Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Phantom Limb Pain. Retrieved from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/12092-phantom-limb-pain

University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust. (n.d.). Phantom Limb Sensation & Pain Following Amputation. Retrieved from https://www.uhsussex.nhs.uk/resources/phantom-limb-sensation-pain-following-amputation/

NHS. (n.d.). Occupational Therapy. Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/occupational-therapy/

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