The following article about homeopathic remedies for phantom limb pain in amputee dogs and cats was generously provided by veterinary homeopathic expert Gina Snow. If you would like to contribute a guest post to Tripawds, please contact us.
Phantom limb pain refers to mild to extreme pain felt in the area where a limb has been amputated.
Phantom limb sensations usually will disappear or decrease over time; when phantom limb pain continues for more than six months, however, the prognosis for improvement can be poor.
What Causes Phantom Limb Pain?
Although the limb is no longer there, the nerve endings at the site of the amputation continue to send pain signals to the brain that make the brain think the limb is still there. Sometimes, the brain memory of pain is retained and is interpreted as pain, regardless of signals from injured nerves.
What Are the Symptoms of Phantom Limb Pain?
In addition to pain in the phantom limb, some dogs experience other sensations such as tingling, cramping or heat in the portion of the limb that was removed. Any sensation that the limb could have experienced prior to the amputation may be experienced in the amputated phantom limb according to human research.
How Is Phantom Limb Pain Conventionally Treated?
Successful treatment of phantom limb pain can be difficult. Some treatments include:
- Heat application
- Massage to reduce muscle tension
- Surgery to remove scar tissue entangling a nerve
- Physical Therapy
- Neurostimulation techniques such as spinal cord stimulation
- Medications such as pain-relievers, neuroleptics, anticonvulsants etc.
What if none of these above measures are bringing relief to your pup?
You may want to explore these homeopathic recommendations. Always consult your veterinarian to see if these alternatives might be a good addition for your dog. It is recommended that only one remedy be used per dosing so that the individual response can be noted and adjustments can be made.
Arnica montana: typically the first choice after amputation. Use a high potency often to reduce swelling, bruising and pain. After the initial amputation, often another remedy will follow (if there is residual pain) for complete relief. The dog typically has great fear of being touched or approached.
Belladonna: the animal needing this remedy is often in severe pain with the desire to bite with perhaps dilated eyes. There is often a lot of heat from the area and the dog may have an inflammatory temperature. Sometimes there will be jerking limbs or spasms.
Hypericum: this remedy is a great one for Phantom pain as it works well for neuralgic pain in general. This remedy is sometimes given at opposite times of Arnica, post-op because of its success with traumatic neuralgia.
Phos-ac: dogs needing this remedy will show a lot of exhaustion with the pain. They are almost limp with pain. You may consider this remedy if you see the dog stumble easily and make missteps.
Staphrasagria: this remedy is often indicated if the dog’s pain is located along the actual incision area. These dogs will display an “abused” personality and are often vocal with their pain. Joints appear stiff with crural neuralgia.
Symphytum : an excellent remedy for those that the amputation required bone injury, for example, with some mid femur amputations. It’s often helpful with irritable stump pain after amputation.
How to Use these Homeopathic Remedies
The beauty of homeopathy is that it can be added to any medication without fear of a negative interaction. Remedies are also inexpensive and can be picked up locally at most health food stores.
Although you want to use the least needed dose to provide relief, homeopathic remedies can be given as often as needed when they are providing relief. In cases such as pain, use the highest potency you can get which is a 30C, 200C or 1M. 30C being lower potency than 200C or 1M, you may have to repeat it more often.
If you are unable to give the remedies in pellet form, they can be mixed in distilled water and delivered into the mouth with a teaspoon or syringe.
If you do not see some improvement with the pain after 4 doses, consider a new remedy or consulting a qualified homeopath.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained here is intended as education/information only. It is not intended to replace your veterinarian. Please use your own good judgment.
About Gina: For the last 23 years, Gina has worked as a licensed Animal Medical Technician, and nine of them have been spent working in holistic veterinary medicine. She is auntie to Tripawd Maggie.
Please be aware that we are not veterinarians. The information presented here is not meant to be construed as medical advice or guidance, nor should it be substituted for professional veterinary assistance. Always discuss any remedies and treatments you wish to pursue with your veterinarian.