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What To Expect After Amputation?

FITPROSTHETICS is dedicated to helping our clients regain their independence, mobility and quality of life following an amputation. Part of this dedication is providing pre-amputation evaluation to clients who need it.

If you’re preparing for an amputation, our team can help you navigate the many questions you may have. One of the most common questions our clients have before their surgery is, What Should I Expect After My Limb Amputation?
During our pre-amputation evaluation, we provide our clients with the information they need to feel empowered and educated throughout the process. 
Here are a few important tips on what to expect following your amputation surgery.

Expect Some Changes to Your Residual Limb

Many amputees are concerned about the fit and comfort of their prosthetic limb as they heal and rehabilitate after amputation surgery. This is because changes can occur in a residual limb after amputation that may make successful use of prosthetics challenging, especially if these changes aren’t expected or correctly managed.

After your surgery, you should expect some swelling and soreness in your residual limb. You should also expect your stump to change shape significantly as you heal. As swelling subsides, your limb will decrease in volume and may visibly change shape.

To enjoy a successful prosthetic fitting, it’s important for many patients to shrink their residual limb using a shrinker sock or compression sock. This can help manage stump changes that make prosthetic wear more challenging. It’s also important for patients to manage post-amputation weight gain.

Expect Changes in Limb Sensation

Many amputees experience changes in sensation in their residual limb. Some experience a sensation of burning, throbbing, or squeezing. Others report a sensation of involuntary movement, numbness or itching. Residual limb pain can occur in up to 50% of individuals who have undergone an amputation. Physical touch, such as massage or regular tapping, can help desensitize the residual limb area and prepare the skin and muscles for a good prosthetic fit. 

Phantom pain, or the feeling of pain in the limb that was amputated, is also common in amputees. It is caused by signals in the brain and spinal cord adjusting to the new lack of signals from a previously healthy limb. Typically, phantom pain improves over time, but it’s important to seek input from your doctor if it doesn’t. Similarly, residual limb pain that doesn’t improve or which affects your ability to function normally should be reported to your doctor.

Expect Changes in the Fit of Your Prosthesis

As you heal from your amputation surgery, the muscles in your residual limb will naturally change shape as you use them less.

Typically, these changes stabilize within 6 to 8 months after amputation surgery. Some amputees may heal more quickly, while others may take longer.

Once your stump’s shape and size has stabilized, you can begin the process of being fitted for a custom prosthetic device. This process typically takes several appointments with your prosthetic team due to adjustments in your level of rehabilitation, as well as issues with the fit, comfort or usability of your prosthetic device.

Many amputees are disheartened when they don’t accomplish a perfect prosthetic fit immediately. It’s important to know that finding a good socket fit and adjusting to wearing your prosthesis can take several weeks. Typically, amputees need around four sessions with their prosthetic team to find the fit and functionality that works for them.

You should never suffer through a poor socket fit, discomfort or pain when using a prosthesis. Talk to your rehabilitation team and prosthetic provider to make any necessary adjustments to your prosthesis.

The Importance of a Great Prosthetic Team

As you recover from your amputation, it’s important to have trusted, reliable resources available to you.

One of the most important resources during this time is your prosthetic team. If you’re facing an amputation in the near future, it’s not too early to find a prosthetic company you trust. Reach out, visit the clinic, and connect with the team members. Doing so can help alleviate your fears and provide peace of mind during your journey from amputation to prosthesis use.

FIT PROSTHETICS offers a full range of services to our clients, including  pre-amputation evaluation, advanced prosthetic fitting and ongoing support.

Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you!