Leg amputation: 8 frequently asked questions

A leg amputation: many people who undergo one have a lot of questions they would like answered. In this article, we answer eight of the most frequently asked questions.

1. Why do I feel pain in my residual limb? And what can I do about this?

After an amputation, different types of pain can occur in the residual limb. These range from bone pain and wound pain to nerve pain and phantom pain. The pain is treated differently depending on the cause. The options include medication, heating/cooling and wrapping the residual limb. Your contact person for this is your doctor or pain therapist.

Read the article about causes of residual limb pain for more information.

2. When I touch the skin of my residual limb, it feels a bit strange. What can I do about this?

After an amputation, the residual limb can feel different than before. The reason is that nerves were cut during the operation. After a while, your residual limb should feel the same as before. Want to help accelerate this process? Expose your residual limb to various types of stimuli. For example, rub a towel or soft brush across the skin of your residual limb.

Read the article How to care for your residual limb properly following amputation for more information.

3. Why can’t I get a prosthesis immediately after my leg amputation?

After the operation, the residual limb is still swollen and the skin sensitive. The wound also needs time to heal completely. Make sure you are fully recovered before being fitted for a prosthesis. Your treatment team will also monitor your recovery closely.

Read the article about rehabilitation after the amputation for more information.

4. How long will it take until I am able to use the prosthesis effectively?

Unfortunately, there is no one answer to this question. The amount of time you need to learn to use the prosthesis effectively depends on a number of factors: the reason for the amputation, the amputation level, the health of your residual limb, the condition of your other leg and other factors.

Another important factor is your motivation. If you start preparing for the prosthesis immediately after the amputation and continue to train frequently and intensively, you can help to significantly reduce the time needed to achieve your goals.

5. Can I drive a car with my prosthesis?

Again, unfortunately, there is no one answer to this question. You can read more about this topic in the article Can you drive a car with a prosthesis?

6. Can I ride a bike with my prosthesis?

Whether or not you can (once again) ride a bike depends on your amputation level and the type of prosthesis, among other factors. In any event, always practice on a stationary bicycle before trying to ride a regular bike.

Read also Cycling with a prosthetic leg for more information.

7. Can I work with my prosthesis?

Depending on the type of work you do, you should be able to work again with your prosthesis. Do you have an occupation that demands physical exertion? Let your O&P professional know before your prosthesis is made. The reason is that the choice of components for your prosthesis is based on the type of load that will be placed on your prosthesis.

8. When do I need to get a new prosthesis?

This question is difficult to answer. Not all components of your prosthesis have the same life span and this also differs from person to person.

The socket is the starting point: as long as the fit is good and no problems have arisen, you do not need a new socket. Prosthesis parts (that make up the actual prosthesis) usually have a life span of three to five years. Liners are not only subjected to increased wear, but also need to be replaced more often for hygienic reasons. The same applies to the prosthetic cover and the cover of the prosthetic foot. Support products like socks for the residual limb are consumables.

Read Considerations when replacing your prosthetic knee joint for more information.