How to Deal With Losing a Foot

Two Parts:Rehabilitating PhysicallyGetting Emotional Support

Getting a foot amputated might be necessary for a number of reasons, ranging from accidents to diabetes to gangrene. It is a major loss, but if it was done to save your life, then accept it and live the life that was saved. Whatever reason, you are still alive, and with rehabilitation and support, you can enjoy a long and fruitful life!

Part 1
Rehabilitating Physically

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    Take pain relievers.[1][2][3] Make sure to take only those pain relievers prescribed or recommended by your doctor, and exactly as instructed. Aspirin, for instance, can increase bleeding, so it should only be used if your doctor thinks it is best in your case.
    • Following your surgery, your doctor may prescribe other medications, such as antibiotics. Take these exactly as prescribed.
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    Practice physical therapy exercises.[4][5][6] While you are still in the hospital, you will work with physical therapists to learn how to recover your mobility. Your physical therapist will also suggest exercises to practice once you get home and in further therapy sessions. Specific rehabilitation plans will be developed for each patient. Exercises may include:
    • Stretches
    • Learning how to get out of bed an/or a wheel chair with and without assistance
    • Practice bearing your weight in new ways
    • Walking with parallel bars
    • Sitting or laying in different positions
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    Meet with a specialist about a prosthesis.[7][8][9] A specialist will meet with you shortly after your operation to discuss fitting and using a prosthetic foot. Depending on your healing process, you may be able to wear a prosthetic foot as soon as ten to fourteen days after your operation.
    • Several kinds of prosthetics are available; your doctor will help you decide which one will be most functional and comfortable for you.[10]
    • Practice wearing the prosthetic foot, exactly as instructed.[11] It will take some time to get used to the prosthetic, but physical therapy and persistence will help.
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    Learn to deal with phantom pain.[12][13] Sensations or feelings of pain coming from a limb that is no longer there are known as phantom pain. This is a physical issue that may arise after an amputation. Some people find that phantom pain becomes less severe over time (usually within six months), without any specific treatment. If you are bothered by phantom pain, however, your doctor can develop a treatment plan that may involve medication and therapy.
    • Phantom pain is not a sign of being “crazy.” It is a common physical response to amputation that occurs as the brain and nervous system adjust to the loss of a limb.
    • Medications used to treat phantom pain can include antidepressants, anticonvulsants, narcotics, and muscle relaxants.
    • Therapies that can help relieve phantom pain include electrical stimulation techniques, the use of a “mirror box” (which reflects your remaining limb to give the illusion of having both), acupuncture, and massaging the remaining limb.

Part 2
Getting Emotional Support

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    See a therapist or counselor.[14][15] Losing part of your body can be emotionally stressful. Meeting with a therapist will help your emotional health after the operation, as well as alleviate issues like feeling phantom pain or sensations in your amputated limb.
    • Emotions such as sadness or frustration are common after amputations, as is a higher risk of depression.[16][17]
    • Counseling and support from family and/or other caregivers can help you cope and overcome any emotional or mental health issues you may experience.[18]
    • Friends and family can also help you out at home while you are adjusting.
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    Seek out a support group. Meeting with others who have had amputations, dealt with prosthetic limbs, and overcome the physical and emotional challenges of losing a limb can be very helpful. Ask your doctor about what kind of support groups are available in your area. The Amputee Coalition also maintains a National Peer Network, which can help you find someone to talk to who has experienced an amputation.[19][20]
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    Try relaxation techniques. Meditation calms the body and mind, and being relaxed can help you cope with the physical and emotional difficulties of losing a foot.[21][22] Mindfulness meditation is a simple and effective way to begin a practice of daily meditation:[23]
    • Sit in a comfortable position, whether in a chair, cross-legged, or kneeling.
    • Begin to pay attention to your breathing. Your mind will eventually wander. When you catch your mind wandering, bring your attention back to your own breathing.
    • Don’t stop to dwell on or judge your thoughts.
    • Continue this process for a short time, such as five minutes if you are trying it for the first time. Repeat this practice frequently, at least once a day. As you begin to practice mindfulness mediation regularly, you can gradually increase the length of the sessions, if you desire.
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    Try some breathing exercises. You can relieve stress and pain by practicing deep breathing.[24] Even simple breathing exercises will increase your feelings of calm and relaxation. For example, try this technique regularly:[25]
    • Focus all your attention on your breathing.
    • As you inhale and exhale through your nostrils, listen to and feel the air move.
    • Take slow, even breaths.
    • Imagine your lungs filling with air each time.
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    Focus on positive things. Amputation involves a major loss, and leads to life changes. However, it does not have to prevent you from accomplishing the things you want to. Try to focus on your abilities, strengths, and best features, and on the things that make you happy:[26][27]
    • Laughter really does help you feel better by lifting your spirits, so make time to appreciate your sense of humor. Watch funny movies, tell jokes, hang out with good friends—whatever makes you laugh.
    • Set aside time for the things you enjoy—reading books, playing games, watching movies, or any other hobbies you have. These activities will distract you from any discomfort you may be experiencing, and refocus your mind on what you value and on what makes you happy.
    • Focus on your best features, not on the loss. Maybe you have a great personality, are looked up to by other people, or make others proud by working very hard. You have talents, features, and personal characteristics that are all part of who you are.
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    Learn everything you can about living as an amputee. Knowledge is power, they say, and learning as much as you can about your amputation and how to deal with it will remind you of the power you have to live an active and fulfilled life. Keep in touch with your doctor, therapists, support groups and family about your progress, and celebrate each day!

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Categories: Mobility Disabilities | Feet Knees and Legs