5 Reasons Why Your Residual Limb Hurts

Posted on: July 21st, 2017 by Premier Prosthetics Blogger No Comments

It’s expected that anyone who undergoes an amputation will experience pain after the procedure. However, some people experience pain in their residual limb even after they have healed. Here are five reasons why this may be happening to you:

  • Pre-existing condition

Health conditions such as diabetes or poor circulation that led to your amputation can still be an issue even after the limb is removed. Make sure that you are following the health guidelines set forth by your doctor to manage symptoms.

  • Bone Spur

Sometimes, extra bone material can form abnormally at the end of your residual limb. This bone spur or heterotropic bone can cause your prosthesis to not fit properly, and thus cause pain.

  • Poor tissue coverage

It’s normal to have pain after your surgery. However, if the bone at the end of your residual limb hasn’t been trimmed properly, this can cause you to experience pain while wearing your prosthesis. Try wearing extra padding at the end of your limb. If that doesn’t work, additional surgery may be required.

  • Neuroma

The nerves at the end of your residual limb form a bundle under your skin known as a neuroma. This collection of nerve endings can be very sensitive, and if they press up against the prosthesis, it can lead to serious pain. There are a number of ways to decrease it, including medication, massage, ultrasound and more. Your doctor should be able to come up with a plan to address it.

  • Nerves caught in scar tissue

This can happen as you start to heal from amputation. Wrapping your residual limb with elastic can help prevent this from happening. When your incision is at a certain healing point, you should also start massaging it to keep the nerves from being caught in scar tissue.

Besides the tips listed above, there are a number of other things you can do to prevent your residual limb from hurting. Follow the exercises your physical therapist gives you, practice desensitizing methods and work on relaxation. If pain still persists, set up an appointment with your doctor to find a treatment that works with you.

3 Stages of Amputee Post-Op Healing

Posted on: July 7th, 2017 by Premier Prosthetics Blogger

Undergoing amputation can be a frightening and emotional ordeal. That’s why Premier Prosthetics would like to prepare you by taking you through the steps of what will happen during the healing phase. This time can be divided into three distinct stages, the first one occurring right after surgery and the third one right before you are fitted with your prosthesis:

  1. After the Surgery.

After surgery, you will spend some time recovering in the hospital. During this time, your healthcare team will be concerned with making sure the soft tissue heals and that they reduce your chances of infection. More than likely, you will have a drainage inserted to make sure fluid don’t build up. Expect regular dressing changes.

If you had an amputation as a result of an injury, you may also have skeletal pins attached to an external device to make sure your bones stay aligned.

  1. Closing off the wound.

Once the tissue has healed, your healthcare team will work to prepare your residual limb for a prosthesis. They will close the wound with sutures, which will be covered with a petroleum gauze and gauze covering. The sutures will stay on for approximately two to three weeks.

After the sutures are removed, your doctor will apply adhesive strips to the end of the wound, which will fall off by themselves in a week. You will also wear rigid compression garments at this time, to reduce swelling and shape your residual limb to fit the prosthesis.

  1. Desensitizing

The final stage of preparing your residual limb for a prosthesis involves being able to tolerate touch and pressure. This can be done by giving yourself regular massages, as well as tapping the end of it for a few minutes every day.

Another way to accomplish desensitizing is to rub various materials on the end of it. Start by gently rubbing it with a cotton ball, then progress to a paper towel and finally to terry cloth. Do this for 2-3 minutes a day, twice a day.

 

Remember, it’s okay to be overwhelmed and to ask for help during this time. You’re entering a new phase in your life, and you will have to be proactive in order to take care of your residual limb. The team at Premier Prosthetics is here to help. Make an appointment with us today to see how we can help you regain your active life after amputation.

Summer Swimming and Prostheses

Posted on: June 28th, 2017 by Premier Prosthetics Blogger

Summertime means paradise and pools.  However, having a prosthesis can make going to the warm sandy beaches or public pool a daunting task.  That’s why we wanted to offer these helpful tips and steps to help make your summer swimming peaceful and soothing!

  • Go with friends: Going anywhere with friends will always make you feel more comfortable and makes the environment that you’re in less intimidating.  Your friends are there to support you, so you will have a strong system in place thanks to them when attempting to walk through the sand or get into the pool.
  • Understand your device: It is imperative that you know what your prosthesis is capable of and what its limits are.  Talk to your prosthetist to know if your device can be used in sand or if a waterproof one meant for aquatic activity is available.  They will know what the correct plan of action is for your limb because they have worked with you and know how your body responds to your prosthesis.
  • Wear what you want: It’s important that you feel comfortable in your own skin when on the beach or in a pool.  Pick what you want to wear and go with it.  It doesn’t matter what you’re in as long as you are happy, so wear a long flowy dress or just sport a swim suit if you’d like!  Feeling confident will help you take on any challenges that may present themselves.
  • Be prepared: It’s crucial that you bring all the supplies you’ll need so that your summer fun isn’t stressful.  For example, make sure to pack sunscreen because if the tender skin on your residual limb burns, it’ll make wearing the prosthesis uncomfortable and difficult to wear.  Be prepared for a few challenges along the way.  Walking in sand with divots is no easy task, so make sure your balance and coordination are in full swing when trekking across the beach.
  • Enjoy Yourself: After making it to your perfect spot on the beach or into the pool, be sure to let go and relax. Be proud of your accomplishment this summer and enjoy the serenity given to you by your piece of paradise!

We hope that these tidbits of information will help you enjoy your summer swimming!  If you have any questions or want to know more about what you can do to prepare your prosthesis for the exciting summer activities ahead, contact us today!

 

Tips to Camping When You’re an Amputee

Posted on: June 21st, 2017 by Premier Prosthetics Blogger

With the warmer weather here, it’s now time to be out and about!  One of the ways to enjoy this summer is by going camping in the great outdoors.  When you’re an amputee, it’s important to come prepared and well equipped.  That’s why we came up with the following tips:

  1. Check With Your Prosthetist

Camping can require a lot of activity depending on where you go, so it’s important to know if your prosthesis can handle that amount of action.  You’ll want to talk to your prosthetist to make sure that all parts are intact and will be working smoothly so you don’t run into any problems while exploring.

 

  1. Carry The Right Socks

Bringing and wearing the correct socks is crucial to your comfort.  High activity can cause unwanted stress on your residual limb if you wear socks that don’t absorb sweat, so wool or synthetic fibers work great for wicking away moisture.  As you hike, friction will occur as temperature and sweat levels increase, causing chafing, skin irritation, and blisters.  New pressure points may present themselves because they aren’t stressed during normal daily activities, so it’s imperative that you pick the right socks to aid in your contentment.

 

  1. Bring Trekking/Hiking Poles

Hiking poles will help you maintain your balance as you make the trek through the wilderness.  They will help relieve the stress on your limb and the rest of your body.

 

  1. Wear Proper Foot Wear

Wearing supportive, lightweight shoes can help reduce some of the shock to the body when hiking to your camping spot.  Discussing this with your prosthetist about what they recommend can help you get started with what shoes to choose.

 

  1. Pack Light

Any extra weight on your body will already begin to place stress on it, so it’s important to only bring the essentials.  However, make sure to bring tape, extra socks and liners, and plastic bags to put around your prosthesis when near sand or water.

 

  1. Protect Your Prosthesis

Make sure that your prosthesis is inside the tent or indoors, so it doesn’t get damaged by dew.  If there won’t be a roof over your head, bring a tarp or plastic bag to protect your prosthesis from the elements.

We hope that these tips will help make your camping experience more enjoyable and diminish any possible problems that could occur.  If you have any other questions, contact us so we can help prepare you for your adventure!

I Woke Up and My Prosthesis Doesn’t Fit – Now What?

Posted on: May 13th, 2017 by Premier Prosthetics Blogger

As a new amputee, you will face a number of hurdles when it comes to learning how to use your prosthesis. One of the more common problems is waking up to find that it no longer fits as well as it did the day before. Don’t panic—we’ve seen this before, and can help. Here are a number of tips on what to do in that situation:

  • Visit your prosthetist: For new prosthesis users, you will likely have to visit your prosthetist regularly during the first few weeks or months to find a fit that makes you feel most comfortable. This may mean making appointments up to several times a week. Your limb is undergoing drastic changes, so naturally you’ll need many adjustments made to your prosthesis.

 

  • Be proactive: There are some motions that can cause a residual limb to change. Taking a hot shower, dangling your limb over the side of a bed or chair or neglecting your stretches can all cause it to change shape, thus affecting the prosthesis fit.

 

  • Experiencing weight loss or gain: Weight fluctuations can cause your limb to swell or decrease in size, causing your prosthesis to feel too tight or too loose. Make sure you consult with your prosthetist if you are experiencing any discomfort when wearing your prosthesis due to fluctuations in your weight.

 

  • Worn or damaged socket: Over time, the socket, or the piece of your prosthesis that connects your limb and prosthesis, can become worn, causing you to feel discomfort when moving. Consult with your prosthetist about replacing your socket if it has become damaged due to normal wear and tear.

 

Any time you experience unexplained discomfort when wearing your prosthesis, you risk causing further damage to your body and more pain. Schedule an appointment with Premier Prosthetics today so you can enjoy all of the amazing benefits that your prosthesis has to offer.

Diabetes and Amputation: What You Should Know

Posted on: May 6th, 2017 by Premier Prosthetics Blogger

In 2010, 73,000 people over the age of 20 underwent amputation due to complications from diabetes. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, foot care and proper management of your blood sugar levels can significantly reduce your chances of having an amputation in the lower leg, foot or toes.

By following the foot care instructions below, those who live with diabetes can significantly lower their chances of an amputation:

 

  • Check your feet regularly for blisters, swelling, bruises, and redness
  • To get a closer look at your feet, use a magnifying glass
  • Use a feather or other light object to check for sensation in your feet
  • Ask a loved one or a friend to examine your feet
  • Discover if your feet can feel the difference between warm and cold temperatures
  • Wear diabetic shoes and socks to ensure circulation

 

When managing your blood sugar levels, the following steps can help you avoid complications caused by diabetes:

  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Check your blood sugar regularly
  • Exercise
  • Take your insulin and other diabetic medications as instructed by your physician

 

At Premier Prosthetics, we have a wide selection of diabetic foot care and blood sugar testing supplies available to help you maintain the health of your lower limbs and prevent your chance of amputation caused by major diabetic complications.

Tips for Sleeping When You Use a Prosthesis

Posted on: April 22nd, 2017 by Premier Prosthetics Blogger

You know the power of a good night’s sleep, but 40 percent of Americans say they don’t get enough! While this can be remedied by practicing good sleep habits, as an amputee, you may need to take some additional measures.  What you do during your sleep has a huge impact in the way your prostheses fits the next day. Premier Prosthetics is here to give you top tips on sleeping when you use a prosthetic limb:

  • If you are an above-the-knee amputee, avoid sleeping with a pillow between your legs. This can lengthen the inner thigh muscles while shortening the outer thigh muscles. The result is a change in the way the limb lays when you stand the next day.

 

  • Above-the-knee amputees should also avoid sleeping with a pillow under the limb, as this can cause a hip flexion contracture. You will not be able to completely straighten your hip the next day.

 

  • Make sure to put your prosthesis on before sitting up from bed. This helps to prevent the blood from rushing down to your limb, causing it to swell and not fit properly in your prosthesis.

 

  • Take your shower at night, instead of in the morning. Hot water is another factor that causes swelling limbs. If it’s absolutely necessary to bathe in the morning, use cold water.

 

  • Perform daily stretches to lengthen your leg and hip muscles. This can help ensure your limb muscles lie comfortably whether you’re standing or lying down. If you’re unsure of how to do these stretches, make an appointment with us today to learn all about them.

Premier Prosthetics encourages you to try these tips and embrace a good night’s sleep! Whether you’re a new amputee or have been wearing a prosthesis since childhood, we’re here to help you. Contact us today if you have questions about your prosthesis.

3 Reasons Why Diabetes Causes Amputation, and What You Can Do About It

Posted on: April 15th, 2017 by Premier Prosthetics Blogger

Diabetes is the number one reason Americans undergo amputation. This disease can cause nerve damage, ulcers, infections and other foot-related ailments that can quickly worsen. Those who have experienced limb loss as a result of diabetes are often at risk of experiencing a second amputation as well.

Premier Prosthetics is here to help. We’re going to look at the top three reasons why diabetes causes amputation, and what you can do about it:

 

  • Damaged blood vessels and nerves.

 

If your blood sugar stays at high levels for too long, you run the risk of damaging blood vessels and nerves, especially in your extremities. This leads to decreased sensation, which means you may not notice at first if you get a cut, sore or a blister on your foot. Any one of those can then turn into an infection that isn’t able to heal properly. You can protect your feet by having one of our orthotists create custom orthotic shoes for you.

 

  • Decreased white blood cell effectiveness.

 

High levels of blood sugar not only lead to damaged nerves and blood vessels, they also lead to decreased effectiveness of white blood cells. This means your body will not be able to fight any infections that occur on your feet as well. By managing your blood sugar, you will decrease the likeliness that an infection is unable to heal.

 

  • Poor circulation.

 

The third thing that high blood sugar causes is poor circulation, which means less blood is getting to your extremities. This makes it easier for ulcers to develop, which when combined with your body’s decreased ability to fight infections, can lead to amputation. Staying consistent with your blood sugar management program can help you avoid amputation, as well as ceasing any bad habits such as smoking.

 

 

Premier Prosthetics wants to help our patients avoid additional amputation. Fortunately, when it comes to diabetes, proper blood sugar management and foot care can go far in prevention. See us today if you want us to make custom footwear to protect your lower limbs.

Modifying Your Home for the Recent Amputee

Posted on: March 25th, 2017 by Premier Prosthetics Blogger

If you and your doctor are planning an amputation—or even considering it as a possibility—there could be a number of changes that you will need to make to adjust to your life. Even if you plan on wearing a prosthesis, there will be a healing period, which will require you to go without it for some time.  Because of this, some additional home modification may be necessary. Premier Prosthetics is here to help with the top three things you’ll need to do in order to make your home accessible for a recent amputee:

Make the entrances and exits more accessible.

Stairs can be a challenge for lower-limb amputees. Threshold or modular ramps can make it much easier to move in and out of your home while using crutches or a wheelchair. If you have a staircase in your home, consider installing a stair lift, even if it’s temporary. For upper-limb amputees, replacing your doorknobs with levers and installing motion-sensor lights can make life a little easier.

Install Bath Safety Products.

A shower chair or bench is very helpful to the lower-limb amputee both before and after you’ve received your prosthesis, as it allows you to bathe while sitting down. You should also install a safety grab bar, to help stabilize yourself as you get in and out of the shower. Both of these products are usually found at your local home medical equipment supplier.

Move things in your kitchen.

If you’re using a wheelchair, you may need to rearrange items in your kitchen so they are accessible from a sitting position. This means organizing your cupboards so a majority of things are located on the lower shelves. For upper-limb amputees, you may want to buy a number of appliances that can help you in food preparation, such as an electric can opener and a food processor. There are also a number of other kitchen tools to help the one-handed chef. Things like a spike board, belli-clamp, a buttering board and a saucepan handle stabilizer are great staple for upper-limb amputees.

 

For any other suggestions on how to make your home more accessible, don’t hesitate to contact us! We’re here for you in every part of your prosthesis journey.

When Your Child Needs an Amputation

Posted on: March 18th, 2017 by Premier Prosthetics Blogger

Nothing could be harder than seeing your child undergo a medical crisis. If you have a little one facing amputation, it may feel like your whole world is about to change. While your home may need some adjustments, the biggest difference you can make is being there for your son or daughter. At Premier Prosthetics, we work with a number of pediatric patients. We want to offer you these tips on what to expect moving forward:

Children often adapt better than adults.

One of the things we’ve noticed at Premier Prosthetics is that our pediatric patients have often had an easier time adapting to their prostheses compared to their adult counterparts! Because they haven’t fully formed their identity in life, it’s often easier for them to mentally accept changes such as amputation. Their younger age also allows them to heal quicker after surgery, which means they can start learning to use their prosthesis at a more advanced rate.

Kids take emotional cues from you.

It’s true that the strength of the parent affects the child. How you choose to react towards their amputation will often color how your child sees themselves. By accepting your child’s limb difference and being willing to embrace their physical challenges, you will help them foster a sense of independence that will follow them for the rest of their life.

Taking care of yourself is just as important

Accepting the role of caretaker is not a simple transition at any age. Many parents find themselves becoming overwhelmed. Remember, you can’t give strength to your child if you are too tired yourself. Between friends, family and Premier Prosthetics, don’t be afraid to ask for help during this difficult time.

 

It’s going to be okay in the end.

Your child will grow up to be a happy, successful adult. Limb loss isn’t going to hold them back from going to college, falling in love or starting a family and career of their own. Organizations such as the Amputee Coalition can connect you and your child to people and resources that will help them stay on the right track.

At Premier Prosthetics, we understand the needs of amputee children are different than adults. Our practitioners know how to communicate with them at their level and ensure they adapt successfully to their new prosthesis. Please hesitate to reach out to us. We’d love to learn how we can help your little one.