Immediately following amputation surgery you need to start preparing your residual limb or “stump” for the first appointment. Generally it will take several weeks after surgery for the residual limb to heal enough to start the fitting process. Your particular situation, and prosthetist will determine the actual amount of time necessary. This period of waiting is a crucial phase and there are several things you can be doing, and thinking about. It is important to remember to be patient, even though you may feel like you are not making progress, you are.
Before your first appointment you have three primary goals. First, care for your residual limb, then reduce your swelling, and finally keep your residual limb or stump clean. There are several techniques to become familiar with in order to accomplish all of these and are discussed in great detail throughout the website.
Preparing Your Residual Limb or Stump for Your Prosthetic
Massaging and exercising your residual limb as soon as possible can produce several good results. First, it will help you become more comfortable and accepting of the changes in your body. Next, it will help reduce the swelling and desensitize the tender residual limb. Finally, a proper massage and exercise routine will strengthen the muscles & support tissues in the limb plus increases blood flow and circulation to the stump.
It is important to note that massaging and exercising the residual limb will not yield immediate results, however the sooner you adopt these habits, the better results you will have. We discuss care and cleaning of the stump in the area titled Cleaning and Caring of the residual limb.
Getting Around Before Your Appointment
A big concern our patients have before their first appointment is how to get around. Although many prefer to use a wheelchair, we highly recommend using crutches during this time. Using crutches will get you moving around, keep you exercising, and help you stay in shape. All of these assisting in a faster recovery.
Even after you are fitted for your prosthetic it is a good idea for you have a pair of crutches or a rollator for those moments you are not wearing your prosthesis. For more information on possible crutch, cane, rollator, or wheel chair options check our inventory in our durable medical equipment section.
Dealing with Pain or Phantom Sensations
Pain and phantom sensations can vary and may appear like cramping, aching, burning, or even a brief-sharp pulse feeling. Stress, anxiety, fear, and lack of sleep or proper nutrition will usually increase your discomfort. There are several options to reducing the pain or discomfort; acupuncture, chiropractic care, or circulation therapy. Do not hesitate to discuss any pain or phantom sensation with your prosthetist, physician, or therapist.
Here are some techniques out patients have used to reduce or alleviate phantom pain:
➤ Wrap the stump in a warm, soft towel or a heating pad.
➤ Wrap the residual limb in a cold pack, apply cooling cream, or gel.
➤ Tightening the muscles, a slowly releasing them in the residual limb.
➤ Applying an elastic/Ace bandage or shrinker.
➤ Change the position you are in. Get up, move around, sit down, etc.