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phantom limb

Definition of phantom limb

called also phantom pain

Examples of phantom limb in a Sentence

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'phantom limb.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

1871, in the meaning defined above

Dictionary Entries Near phantom limb

phantom larva

phantom orchid

Cite this Entry

“Phantom limb.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary , Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/phantom%20limb. Accessed 24 Oct. 2023.

Medical Definition

Medical definition of phantom limb.

called also phantom pain , phantom sensations

More from Merriam-Webster on phantom limb

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about phantom limb

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phantom limb

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An illusory sensation, experienced by an amputee, of the limb still being attached to the body, even when all sensory nerve fibres associated with the limb have been removed. It is experienced by almost all amputees, and the sensations include pain in approximately 70 per cent of cases. See also pseudaesthesia. Compare alien hand sign, rubber hand phenomenon.

From:   phantom limb   in  A Dictionary of Psychology »

Subjects: Science and technology — Psychology

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Definition of 'phantom limb'

Phantom limb in british english, examples of 'phantom limb' in a sentence phantom limb, trends of phantom limb.

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  • phantom limb

the illusion that a limb still exists following its amputation, sometimes with pain ( phantom limb pain )

Words Nearby phantom limb

  • phantasmagory
  • phantom circuit
  • phantom limb pain
  • phantom pregnancy
  • phantom stock
  • phantom withdrawal

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

How to use phantom limb in a sentence

The Wall abides like a phantom limb , a void that cannot be forgotten.

phantom limb

  • 1.1.1 Synonyms
  • 1.1.2 Translations
  • 1.1.3 See also

English [ edit ]

Noun [ edit ].

phantom limb ( plural phantom limbs )

  • ( pathology ) The false sensation, which is often painful, that an amputated limb is still present and attached.

Synonyms [ edit ]

  • phantom pain
  • phantom sensations
  • pseudesthesia

Translations [ edit ]

See also [ edit ].

  • paresthesia

phantom limbs define

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Proprioception: Balance and Phantom Limbs

24 Phantom Limbs

Learning Objectives

Know what a phantom limb is.

Be able to describe three possible reasons that people experience phantom limbs or phantom pain.

Be able to describe how mirror boxes are used to treat phantom limb pain.

In this section, the focus of learning is to understand more about phantom limbs. Very few people have personal experience with phantom limbs because it requires for a limb to be absent. There are numerous causes of this ranging from car accidents where someone loses a limb to a birth defect where a child is born with only one arm or leg. Now, I think everyone is wondering, what is a phantom limb? A phantom limb is the sensation of feeling various things in a limb that is not there (e.g. a tingling sensation in an area where a limb no longer exists).

There are multiple complications that could be caused in experiencing sensations in limbs that are no longer existent. One of the main complications is phantom pain, which is a painful sensation in phantom limbs. There are three different ways that an individual could experience phantom pain. The first is called Neuroma, which is a physical source of pain caused by scarring on nerve endings. Sometimes, neuroma can be treated by surgery to remove the growth/tumor on the nerve, although the neuroma might re-grow after surgery, so the treatment is not always effective. The treatments for Cortical causes of phantom pain are less obvious. The first Cortical cause is negative sensory deprivation. For example, if the last thing a person felt on their arm before it got amputated was pain, the person’s brain could be stuck in that state. The second Cortical cause is sensory reorganization, and the issue here is that nerves from an amputated limb could grow back and infiltrate a different area of the body causing pain.

A soldier is using mirror therapy to treat his phantom leg.

There is new technology being used, though, that can help people struggling from phantom pain with Cortical causes called mirror boxes. Mirror boxes are treatments that rewire the brain to portray a lack of sensory responses as not being painful. It allows a person’s brain to not think of an absence of sensory responses as pain and it allows the person to be at ease rather than feeling pain.

  • What is a phantom limb? A. An arm or leg of a person B. A person who had had a limb amputated C. Limbs that are not present (due to amputation or congenital condition) but still perceived D. A figment of the imagination
  • What is neuroma? A. Inflammation or scar tissue on a nerve B. Damage, disease, or dysfunction of one or more nerves especially of the peripheral nervous system that is typically marked by burning or shooting pain C. The branch of medicine or biology that deals with the anatomy, functions, and organic disorders of nerves and the nervous system D. Differing in mental or neurological function from what is considered typical or normal
  • How can neuroma be treated? A. Prescribed medications B. Do nothing C. Tell your doctor D. Surgery
  • What are the two cortical causes of phantom pain? A. Pessimistic interpretation and mechanical sensation B. Sensory reorganization and neuroma C. Pessimistic interpretation of sensory deprivation and sensory reorganization D. Phantom limbs and pain
  • What are mirror boxes? A. A reflective surface, now typically of glass coated with a metal amalgamation that reflects an image B. A neuron that fires when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another C. A condition that causes a person to feel the sensations of being touched on the opposite side of their body when they see another person being touched D. Promising treatments that train the brain to interpret sensory responses, or the lack of sensory responses, as not painful

Answer Key:

Introduction to Sensation and Perception Copyright © 2022 by Students of PSY 3031 and Edited by Dr. Cheryl Olman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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