How Your Body & Mind Can Recover After a Foot Amputation

Diabetes can lead to leg infections that would require amputation to prevent blood poisoning that can threaten your life. If your leg has to be amputated because of diabetes, many feelings and thoughts must be racing through your mind. It is all right to be anxious, especially since you’ll know that your life will never be the same again without one leg.


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) before diabetes foot amputation

Recovery begins before the amputation procedure itself. The mental and emotional trauma is already enough to visibly affect your health before the operation, which is why you need to undergo CBT sessions conducted by a psychologist. CBT sessions let you clear your thoughts and objectifies the necessity of surgery. It would also help you accept the inevitable and face a new life with one less leg while consolidating your sense of self-worth. 


Recovery immediately after amputation

Your doctors and nurses will monitor your vital signs after your surgery. Once the levels have normalized, you would be taken out of intensive care and into a regular hospital room where you might have to stay for another week or more. The nurse will change your wound dressings and administer painkillers. A physical therapist or chiropractor will also begin assisting you in doing exercises meant to prevent numbness and muscle shrinkage. During your stay at the hospital, you can talk to a prosthetics professional about the artificial leg or foot you’ll be needing.


Recovery at home

Depending on the severity of your surgical operation, you can be discharged as early as one week. From then on, you’ll have to take the lead to care for yourself. Among the first things that you’ll have to get used to is walking on your prosthetic leg comfortably. Many first-timers tend to hop around, which harms the remaining leg. The legs of diabetes patients are especially vulnerable to infection and bleeding, which is why you have to be careful. Any wound or strain on your leg or tears could risk you a second amputation. A full-time physical therapist can help you regain mobility safely and effectively. However, if you don’t have the money to hire a full-time physical therapist, you would need to figure out how to move normally by yourself. 

Only use medicine and painkillers your doctor recommended and avoid sweets. If you feel prolonged numbness on your stump or on the other leg, or if you experience bleeding or severe pain, call your surgeon immediately.


Dealing with side effects and complications

Foot amputations can cause real nerve pain and what is called “phantom foot pain,” where you feel pain from the amputated area. The body has gotten used to the existence of your foot, which is why the brain experiences phantom foot pain even after it’s physically gone. You might also have to undergo further surgery to remove and polish bone spurs left from your previous amputation. Acupuncture and pain medications are usually sufficient to help you cope with these issues. The phantom foot pain will eventually wear off on its own.


Mental health recovery

Losing a leg can physically and emotionally cause you to drop to the floor. Amputees can experience depression, denial, and suicidal feelings. Cognitive-behavioural therapy before and after the operation would help the patient cope with their situation. Having supportive friends and family can also help you move on from the ordeal. You can tell them what you feel and assist you in adjusting to your new lifestyle and a prosthetic leg.

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