A foot amputation can be a scary procedure to face. But, completing a successful operation is your surgeon’s job. Your work begins after the procedure.
Knowing what to expect after a foot amputation can help you toward a speedy, healthy recovery. Your hospital staff will give you medications to alleviate pain and fight infection, but you need to know more. Here’s what you can anticipate:
In the hospital after your foot amputation
After moving to your hospital room post-recovery, nurses will change your bandages and will teach you to do so, as well. You will also start the early stages of physical therapy with stretching and some gentle exercises.
Perhaps, most importantly, you will receive information and guidance about your prosthetic foot (if you’re choosing to get one).
If your healing progresses well in the hospital, you’ll likely go home after a few days. Once there, be sure you follow your surgeon’s instructions about bathing, activity level, and physical therapy to ensure your best recovery.
Physical therapy starts with gentle stretching and will progress to exercises that will improve your muscle control, enable you to resume daily activities, and help you regain independence. It will also include practice with your prosthetic or assistive devices.
Only take pain medications prescribed by your doctor. Even taking an aspirin can increase your bleeding risk.
If you experience swelling, redness, bleeding, worsening pain, numbness, or tingling, contact your surgeon immediately. These symptoms could be normal, but they could also indicate a need for immediate attention.
If you have additional health problems or you’re not recovering your mobility quickly, your doctor might recommend an inpatient rehabilitation facility.
Healthcare providers will focus on wound healing, rebuilding your strength, preparing your leg for the prosthetic, and improving your mobility. They will also teach you how to care for your new prosthetic.
Prosthetics: If you opt for an artificial foot, you’ll need to be fitted properly, learn how to care for it, and how to walk.
It’s possible your leg will still be swollen when you get fitted for your first prosthetic. If so, you’ll receive a temporary one, getting the permanent one within six to 12 months.
Mental health: Losing a limb can be emotionally traumatic. You can develop feelings of depression, anxiety, grief, denial, and suicide. If you feel any of these emotions, contact your doctor immediately. Your care team has support resources.
Even successful surgeries carry risks. Blood clots and infections can occur with amputations. If left untreated, these problems can cause nerve pain, phantom pain (pain felt in a removed limb), and bone spurs at the end of your leg.
Contact your surgeon if you experience any complications. While it might be possible to correct the problem with medication, there’s a chance you could need additional surgery.
Ultimately, going into your amputation surgery with a clear understanding of what your next steps will be could put you on a path to a quicker, healthier recovery. If you know what to expect, you can be better prepared.
If you have any questions about a foot amputation, contact the Amputation Prevention Centers of America.