Latest Orthotic/Prosthetic News

What is Phantom Limb Pain?

Phantom limb pain is used to describe sensations felt by amputees where the amputated limb had been located. It may include cramping, tingling, itching, pins-and-needles, stabbing pains, and or pressure. Most amputees experience this, but the intensity to which it is felt will vary. These sensations are intermittent and will come and go without warning. New amputees may have frequent and intense sensations several times a day, sometimes lasting for several hours. Over time, as the residual limb matures, these sensations will generally become less frequent and intense.

Almost immediately following an amputation, ~90-98% of patients report experiencing a phantom sensation. The prevalence of phantom limb pain differs based on location. Current research suggest: Upper limb amputations reports %82, while lower limb amputations reports 54%. Although not scientifically justified yet, most investigators believe that the greater the level of amputation, the greater incidence of moderate to severe phantom pain. For example, a trans-femoral (above the knee) amputee may experience more phantom pain relative to a trans-tibial (below the knee) amputee.

Various methods have been used to treat phantom limb pain. Some antidepressants and antiepileptics (AED’s) medications, prescribed by your Doctor, have been beneficial in reducing phantom limb pain. Frequently, physical methods such as light message, electrical stimulation, and hot / cold therapy have been used with variable results. Many of our patients suggest that simply donning (wearing) their prosthesis often helps to alleviate phantom limb pain. This is why prosthetic socket design and fit are imperative for successful outcomes. Many new socket interface materials have been designed throughout our industry designed specifically to treat phantom limb pain. If you’re experiencing phantom limb pain, you may be a candidate for new prosthetic treatments. Please give our office a call. We have staff members ready and willing to assist you.

Michael Relle, CPO /FAAOP

AFO, not UFO! What is this?

An “AFO” is a term use to describe an ankle foot orthotic. Example of an ankle-foot- orthoses (AFOs) are orthoses or braces, encompassing the ankle joint and all (or part) of the foot. AFOs are externally applied and intended to control position and motion of the ankle, compensate for weakness, or correct deformities. They control the ankle directly, and can be designed to control the knee joint indirectly as well. AFOs are commonly used in the treatment of disorders affecting muscle function such as stroke, spinal cord injury, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, polio, multiple sclerosis and peripheral neuropathy. AFOs can be used to support wasted limbs, or to position a limb with contracted muscles into a more normal position. They are also used to immobilize the ankle and lower leg in the presence of arthritis or fracture, and to correct foot drop; an AFO is also known as a foot-drop brace.

With today’s understanding of material science, metal and plastic style AFO’s are becoming a thing of the past. Carbon fiber and acrylic resins offer a more “dynamic” function and decrease the overall weight. This above mention style also offer much more compliance due to easy of comfort and increased shoe styles available. That’s right, you don’t need to wear “Frankenstein” shoes that are three sizes too large.

A true understanding of what the function and goals are with fabrication AFO’s are vital. This is why it’s imperative that a Certified Orthotist preforms the evaluation, design, fabrication, fitting and delivery of ALL AFO’s. It’s like I always say, “one size doesn’t fit all”. The education and training is extensive and enables the Orthotist to deliver the proper device to meet the needs of each person requiring orthotics. Most insurance company’s now require a Certified Orthotist to deliver AFO’s if payment is requested. Please, don’t pay full price for something if it’s a covered item. Give our office a call. We have staff members ready and willing to assist you.

Michael S. Relle, CPO/FAAOP