Tips to Treating Phantom Limb Pain

Posted on: September 17th, 2017 by Premier Prosthetics Blogger No Comments

Phantom limb pain is thought to be caused by mixed signals from your brain or spinal cord. There is no one way to treat the condition, so finding what works best for you is how you’ll solve your discomfort. These useful treatments have been known to help others, so we hope you will find one or a combination that will help you live more comfortably.

  1. Medication

Acetaminophen, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, beta-blockers, and muscle relaxants have been shown to help with different kinds of pain sensations. Speak with a doctor to see what is best for you.

  1. Acupuncture

 

By having a professional place needles into certain points on your scalp, pain can be relieved instantly. Acupuncture stimulates specific anatomic sites that promote the natural self-healing process of the body. Over time, patients have been known to be completely free of phantom limb pain.

 

  1. Mirror Therapy

By placing a mirror opposite of your existing arm or leg and hiding your residual limb, your brain can be tricked into thinking that both limbs are still present. This can help reduce pain that your brain is sending to your residual limb.

  1. Virtual Reality

 

Some virtual reality can be used to trick the brain into thinking that there is still another limb present. By seeing another limb instead of the residual limb, pain signals that are being sent can be stopped.

 

  1. Massage

 

Massaging the residual limb can reduce pain caused by phantom limb signals. By looking up pressure points and what areas to massage online, you can live more comfortably.

 

  1. TENS

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation is the use of an electric current produced by a device in order to stimulate the nerves of your residual limb. The intensity of the pulse can help remind your brain that where your residual limb ends, is where your entire limb ends too.

It’s important to remember that these sensations generally improve over time and that there are many treatments available so it does not take over your life. Work closely with your prosthetist, so you can begin to live at ease and enjoy life once again!

6 Times You Should Call a Prosthetist

Posted on: September 3rd, 2017 by Premier Prosthetics Blogger

You always have the right to call your prosthetist if something feels wrong, so never be afraid to ask even the simplest of questions! Here is a list of the most common times you should call your prosthetist.

  1. Skin Irritation

 

The area where the liner has direct contact with the skin can sometimes cause a rash, blister, or sore to develop. Allergic reactions, wrong liners, socket fit, and other issues can be the cause of this discomfort. It’s important to contact your prosthetist if irritation like this occurs, so you can be comfortable again!

 

  1. Falls

 

If your prosthesis causes you to fall, you must let your prosthetist know about the incident. Falling can cause your prosthesis to be thrown out of alignment or damage it. This also means that your body may be trying to tell you that your prosthesis is not fitting you correctly.

 

  1. Fluctuating Weight

 

Weight gain and loss can cause your residual limb to shrink in size, making your prosthesis fit incorrectly. Your prosthesis is meant to handle certain amounts of weight so the socket can evenly distribute it. Let your prosthetist know if you had a sudden change in weight, so they can check to see if you need a different prosthesis.

 

  1. Limb Pain

 

Pain is your body trying to tell you that something is wrong. If you are feeling discomfort, your prosthetist can normally fix that through a socket fit or alignment. Do not ignore your limb if it is hurting because that could lead to more serious complications.

 

  1. Prosthesis Check Ups

 

Having an appointment once every three months is a great way for your prosthetist to see how you are doing and if anything needs changed. Over time, your body can change and prosthesis can be worn down, so it is important to make sure everything is working correctly.

 

  1. Prosthesis Lifespan

Gel liners crack, socks get worn down, and mechanical attributes will go out. That is why it’s important to maintain your prosthesis when the time comes. If you feel that it is working differently or fits abnormally, that means it’s time to schedule an appointment.

If any of these situations have happened to you, be sure to contact your prosthetist to make an appointment. We believe that being comfortable and safe with the right prosthesis is the most important thing, so you can continue to be happy and healthy while enjoying life.

3 Common Questions New Amputees Ask

Posted on: August 19th, 2017 by Premier Prosthetics Blogger

It’s never easy to adjust to life as an amputee. Even with a phenomenal health care team and an army of friends and family to support you, you will still be faced with many challenges, struggles and questions as you start your journey.

Today, Premier Prosthetics is here to clear up three common points of confusion for new amputees:

  • Prosthesis, prostheses, prosthetist—I thought it all referred to prosthetics?

 

The words we use to describe manufactured body parts come from Latin words, so they have some funny endings! A prosthesis is the singular noun that means “artificial body part.” The word prostheses is the plural of that word. A prosthetist is the clinician who will fit and fashion for you your prosthesis.

 

“Prosthetic” is an adjective to describe which limb is artificial. So, you could say “that’s a prosthetic leg,” but you wouldn’t say, “She wears a prosthetic,” without following up with which body part is a prosthesis.

 

  • When will I get to wear my prosthesis?

 

This all depends on your recovery time after surgery, but in general, you will have a temporary prosthesis a few weeks after the operation. For the next few months, your focus will be on healing. Once that has happened and any inflammation or swelling has subsided, we will fit you for a custom prosthesis.

 

Even then, it may be a while before you wear your prosthesis full time. You will need to learn how to perform day to day operations with it, which means undergoing several weeks or months of physical therapy.

 

  • I’ve heard of phantom limb pain. Will I get this?

It’s estimated that 80 percent of all amputees worldwide will deal with phantom limb pain at some point.  Some people feel like they are crazy for experiencing it, but this couldn’t be further from the truth!

 

There are a number of different ways to combat phantom limb pain. Some of them include identifying what triggers your phantom limb pain and having a plan in place to counter it when it happens. Other methods include mirror box therapy, where you trick your mind into believing the limb is still there.

These are just a few of the common questions we receive from our patients. You can also check out the longer list of FAQs that we made. If you can’t find an answer to your question, you can always make an appointment with us to learn more about what to expect as a new amputee!

4 Basic Components of Prosthetic Legs

Posted on: August 5th, 2017 by Premier Prosthetics Blogger

Prosthetic legs have come a long way in the last hundred years. From having a wooden peg to help you get around to intricate microprocessor knees, we’re truly living in wondrous times.

Today, Premier Prosthetics would like to break down the individual parts of a prosthetic leg and help you understand better how all the components work together:

  • The Socket.

 

This is the part of the prosthesis that connects it to your residual limb. The type of design and the materials used can vary based on whether you’re an above-the-knee or below-the-knee amputee. Your prosthetist may also change your socket at various times, depending on how your body changes.

 

  • The Limb.

 

This term can be confusing, as we often refer to “residual limbs” or “sound limbs,” but when it comes to prosthetic legs, this means the largest part of the prosthesis. Most are modeled after your sound limb, but for serious athletes, the limb can be a variety of non-human looking shapes.

 

 

If you are an above-the-knee amputee, you will need a prosthetic knee that allows you to regain a natural-looking gait. The most sophisticated kinds include the microprocessor knee, which has a small computer inside of it that gathers information about how you are walking and what your environment is like. It then adjusts how it responds accordingly.

 

 

What kind of prosthetic feet you wear depends on the level of activity you engage in. For those who won’t be doing a lot of walking, a solid ankle cushioned heel (SACH) is a good option. A dynamic-response foot is good for those who want to engage in moderate to high activity. For those who will often find themselves on uneven surfaces, a microprocessor foot (which is similar to the microprocessor knee) is ideal.

 

Each of these components have many different options to accompany them, all meant to allow the user to live their desired lifestyle. Make an appointment with us today if you want to explore your options when it comes to your lower-limb prosthesis.

5 Reasons Why Your Residual Limb Hurts

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

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.