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The purposes of this descriptive study were (a) to identify the relative frequencies of a priori categories of phantom limb pain (PLP) quality descriptors reported by Mid-Southerners with limb loss, (b) to analyze their descriptions for emerging categories of PLP, and (c) to identify the relative frequencies of the emerging categories.


This cross-sectional descriptive verbal survey assessed PLP descriptors. A content analyses determined relative frequencies of a priori PLP descriptors as well as emerging categories that were identified.


The most common a priori PLP quality descriptors reported by 52 amputees with PLP were intermittent, tingling/needles/numb, sharp, cramping, burning, and stabbing. The most common emerging categories reported were pain compared to illness/injury, electrical cyclical, and manipulated/positional.


The detailed descriptions of PLP provide insight into the vivid experiences of PLP.

Clinical Relevance

Rehabilitation nurses can use this information with PLP assessment, patient teaching, and counseling.

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This is an author-produced, peer-reviewed version of this article. The final, definitive version of this document can be found online at Rehabilitation Nursing, published by Wiley-Blackwell. Copyright restrictions may apply. doi: 10.1002/rnj.84

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