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Recovering After Lower Limb Amputation

After Your Surgery

Managing your pain

You will have some pain after the surgery and while the area heals. It will take about 4 to 6 weeks for your incision to heal and the pain should lessen as it heals.

In the hospital

You will get pain medication in the hospital to help you manage pain. Pain medication may be given by mouth or by an injection. It may be injected into a vein (intravenously with an IV) or around the amputation area using a local anesthetic (called a nerve block). You may have a pump called a patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) that allows you to give yourself pain medication when you need it.

Let your nurse know as soon as you feel pain after your surgery. Do not wait until the pain is bad. It will be easier to manage your pain the sooner it is treated.

You may find it hard to rest or move around if you’re in pain. If the pain medication doesn’t make you feel better, let your nurse know.

Phantom leg sensation and phantom pain

After your surgery, you may still feel the part of your leg that was amputated. This feeling is called phantom leg sensation. Phantom leg sensation is painless but you may feel itching, tingling, or even that the limb is moving. This sensation may cause you to try to step on your amputated leg without thinking and cause you to fall. Phantom leg sensation feels, lasts, and happens differently for everyone.

For some people the sensations hurt. This is called phantom pain. You may feel cramping or a shooting, burning, or crushing pain. Tell someone on your healthcare team if you have any of these feelings. Stress, anxiety and not getting enough sleep can make phantom pain worse. You may find it helpful to do relaxation exercises to help lessen or relieve muscle spasm and pain. You can also talk to your healthcare team about other methods to manage pain such as pain medication, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), and mirror therapy.

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