Pulsed radiofrequency treatment of lower extremity phantom limb pain

Denise Wilkes, Natalie Ganceres, Daneshvari Solanki, Maureen Hayes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Background: Phantom limb pain can be challenging to treat. We present a patient who developed severe phantom limb pain after revision of her lower extremity amputation due to the continued progression of peripheral vascular disease. Multiple treatment modalities had been tried without success. Pulsed radiofrequency has been successfully used to manage a number of pain syndromes. Objective: The present case report describes the use of pulsed radiofrequency treatment for phantom limb pain. Methods: The authors initially preformed regional blocks of femoral and sciatic nerve with 0.375% bupivicaine 15 cc and 50 μg clonidine to control the patient's pain. The blocks provided good pain relief but with limited duration. Based on reports of prolonged pain relief provided by pulsed radiofrequency treatment for other chronic pain conditions such as lumbrosacral spondylosis, we decided to apply this treatment to the patient's sciatic nerve. The patient underwent pulsed radiofrequency treatment with 2 cycles of 120 seconds at 42 degrees, pulse rate of 2 pulse/second, and pulse duration of 20 milliseconds. Results: Our report shows that the sciatic nerve block with bupivicaine and clonidine, initiated approximately 3 years after amputation, produced modest short-term relief. The pulsed radiofrequency treatment resulted in long-term relief of phantom limb pain. The patient was able to wean herself off all oral medications and has been pain free for 4 months.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)736-739
Number of pages4
JournalClinical Journal of Pain
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 2008


  • Amputation
  • Analgesia
  • Neuropathy
  • Phantom limb pain
  • Phantom limb sensation
  • Pulsed radiofrequency
  • Stump pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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