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Above The Knee Amputation
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Above the knee amputation (AKA) is surgery to remove your leg above your knee cap.
- Pain medicine: You may need medicine to take away or decrease pain.
- Learn how to take your medicine. Ask what medicine and how much you should take. Be sure you know how, when, and how often to take it.
- Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease.
- Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling someone when you get out of bed or if you need help.
- Muscle relaxers help decrease pain and muscle spasms.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your healthcare provider or orthopedist as directed:
You may have a home health care nurse help you between your visits. You may need to return to have your stitches removed. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
- Slowly increase your activity level. Rest when needed, but try to exercise 2 to 3 times each day or as directed by your healthcare provider. Do not put weight on your residual limb until healthcare providers tell you it is OK. Many companies supply sports equipment for people with amputations. Talk to your healthcare provider if you are interested in getting a prosthesis so you can stay active in sports.
- Change your position often to move fluid out of your lungs and lower your risk of pneumonia. A change of position also lowers the risk of pressure sores, and keeps your muscles and tendons from tightening.
- Do not lift heavy objects.
- Ask your healthcare provider when you can return to work or school. Ask when you can begin to drive.
Physical and occupational therapy:
A physical therapist will help you with exercises to improve your strength. You may be fitted with a prosthesis, which may need to be adjusted several times before it fits well. Physical therapists will also help you learn to walk with the prosthesis and with crutches. Occupational therapists will help you adjust to daily activities at home and work.
Care for your residual limb:
- Clean and care for your skin: When you are allowed to bathe, gently wash the incision with soap and water. Carefully rinse and dry your skin. Look closely at the skin on your residual limb every day. Use a hand mirror to see all sides of your residual limb. Watch for redness, blisters, or scrapes. Do not put lotion, oil, cream, or rubbing alcohol on your residual limb. Rubbing alcohol dries and cracks your skin.
- Prevent infection: Wash your hands before you touch your wound. This will help prevent an infection. Only use antiseptic (germ-killing) medicines if healthcare providers tell you to.
- Help your residual limb heal: Push the residual limb against a soft pillow. Slowly increase the pressure and start to push your residual limb against harder surfaces like the back of a chair. Massage the residual limb to soften the scar, decrease tenderness, and improve blood flow.
Wrap your residual limb:
Wrap your limb to help form it into a firm cone shape so it will fit a prosthesis. Keep the bandage on at all times except when you bathe. Rewrap the residual limb 2 to 3 times each day to keep the bandage smooth and tight. At first you will not pull the elastic bandage very tight. Healthcare providers will have you pull the bandage tighter as your wound heals and the stitches are removed. If your residual limb hurts or throbs, the bandage may be too tight. Unwrap your limb and start over.
- Figure of 8 method to wrap your residual limb:
- Hold the bandage roll at your waist with one hand. Use the other hand to roll the bandage all the way around your waist.
- Turn the bandage so that it goes down toward the floor. Roll it diagonally down your thigh, and continue to the back of your limb. Stretch the bandage slightly while you wrap your limb.
- Roll the bandage around to the front of your limb. Roll it diagonally up your thigh, to your waist. Roll it all the way around your waist again, in the same direction as the first time.
- Repeat these steps until the bandage covers the top of your thigh to the end of your limb. Overlap the bandage as you wrap so you cover new skin each time. If you need to use more than one bandage, secure each bandage with a clip or tape before you apply another one.
- When you are finished, secure the last bandage. Try to end the bandage in a place that is not in a skin fold or at your hip.
- Woolen residual limb socks: Wear woolen residual limb socks when healthcare providers say you no longer need to wrap your residual limb. This keeps your residual limb clean and comfortable. Wash the woolen socks gently in cool water and soap to keep them from shrinking. Dry the socks flat on a towel to prevent stretching. Replace the sock if it gets torn.
For more support and information:
- Amputee Coalition
900 E. Hill Ave, Ste 290
Knoxville, , TN 37915
Phone: 1- 888 - 267-5669
Web Address: www.amputee-coalition.org
Contact your healthcare provider or orthopedist if:
- You have a fever.
- Your stitches come apart.
- Blood soaks through your bandage.
- The skin around your stitches is red, swollen, or has pus coming from the cut.
- You have a sudden increase in tenderness in your residual limb.
- You have chills, a cough, or feel weak and achy.
- Your skin is itchy, swollen, or has a rash.
- You have questions or concerns about your surgery or care.
Seek care immediately or call 911 if:
- You have severe pain in your residual limb.
- Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
- You suddenly feel lightheaded and have shortness of breath.
- You have chest pain. You may have more pain when you take a deep breath or cough. You may cough up blood.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.