How to deal with Amputation
The indescribable pain of Amputation
Amputation causes sharp pain not only to the patient but also to the people close to him/her. An amputation changes the life of the patient. It affects physically at first. However, the apparent pain is not the end of it. Patients feel deep pain after surgery. It is a part of the healing process, and initial pain subsides within a few days of the incision, but psychological and sensational pains remain for a more extended period. Patients deal with the pain and at the same time learn to live with the missing limb. This is a tremendous mental and physical turmoil that an amputee goes through. In this article, we’ll talk in detail about how we can deal with amputation.
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What is an amputation? What are the mental & physical effects due to amputation? How to deal with amputation?
Amputation is the action of surgically cutting off a limb. It can be anything like a leg, toe, hand, arm, or finger. However, the severity of the operation cannot be lessened. Losing any part of the body restricts one from the regular household chores primarily. Even for a simple action, the patient needs to take the help of his/her family and relatives.
The physical pain can be overwhelming. The pain around the operated part is numbing at the start. Various pains can be felt around the area for a few days. The skin remains sensitive and is prone to wounds if not taken care of. The nerves around the operated part generate a tingling pain which is irritating for the patient.
The mental pain can’t be ignored. The dependence leads to irritation and frustration and the patient could also feel depressed about the entire scenario. He/She may feel left out when around people who don’t have such a condition. Coping up with the mental pain is not easy and takes time, effort from people around the patient.
Amputation can occur by accident, military combat, or in a necessary condition like diabetes, vascular disease, and more.
Also Read: How artificial limbs are made
Different Types of Post Amputation sensations
After the successful incision, internal tissues start getting healed. However, at this time many patients complain about tingling sensation in their cut-off limbs. There are few different types of sensations a person feels in their amputated limb, like Phantom Sensation, Phantom Pain, Residual Limb Pain & many more. The Majority of the patients suffer from Phantom Limb Sensation after the surgery.
What is Phantom Limb Sensation?
Phantom sensation is limb awareness which is related to our habit of using the limbs. Patients often feel that the limb is still in place. It can happen with any body part like hands, legs, or even breasts after the mastectomy of breast cancer patients.
Phantom Sensation vs Phantom Pain
There is a difference between Phantom Sensation and Phantom Pain. In Phantom Sensation patients hardly complain about any pain. However, in the case of phantom pain patients feel real pain in the missing body part.
How to deal with Phantom Pain
There are 5 main methods to deal with phantom pain:
- Local Injection – In this type of treatment, the physician injects a local pain-blocking medicine at the site of amputation. This calms the pain for a few hours or longer.
- Mirror-Box – This is a proven technique to reduce post-amputation pain among patients. The patient gets to see receiving PT in an actual mirror to set up the brain with the message that the limb is not there.
- Never-cuff simulation – The physician places a nerve simulator on the nerves that are traveling to the amputated limb. It encapsulates the nerve and rather than blocking its signals, it sends the right signals to the brain. This technique is still experimental though.
- Deep Brain Simulation – This technique works through direct stimulation of the brain. The physician places electrodes on the surface of the brain, and it helps release the pain with electrical impulses.
- Non-opiate Analgesic – This is a prescription medicine to slow or limit the functions of the pain nerves to regulate the pain.
Also Read: Different Amputation Levels
Things to do if an accident causes amputation
- Call ambulance
- Let the injured person lay down and keep the injured area elevated
- Apply pressure on the wound. If any sharp object is stuck in the injured area, apply pressure around it
- Apply bandage one over another. Don’t remove any bandage.
- Don’t move the person. Let him/her be in his/her position intact.
- Help the person to stay calm down
- Keep the amputated part safe
- Clean with clear water, if needed but avoid soap
- Keep the limb in a plastic bag if possible
- Place the bag into the freezer, if available
What happens after Amputation
Getting back into your previous self is time-consuming, although it’s not impossible. Everything depends on how well one copes up with the unfortunate incident.
After the operation, the amputee spends time in the rehabilitation center learning how to regain strength around the amputated area and how to perform regular chores. This is a crucial period when the patient needs support and love from his/her family, relatives, friends, loved ones, and caregivers. Their love and support will give them strength and also help them understand that their struggles are not permanent and can be overcome.
Rehabilitation centers teach the right exercises which help them strengthen the body. Proper diet is also essential for healing and also providing the right nourishment. The experts from the centers also teach them how to take care of the skin around the amputated area.
How to deal with Amputation yourself.
Self Help is the best help.
An amputee can recover from the physical and mental trauma with external help. However, 90% of the time they need to make up their mind to fight this physical and emotional trauma. Amputees can help themselves more than anyone else.
Books, Music & Podcasts
Spiritual and other motivational books on disability will help the patient not to feel left out. Inspirational stories help people to re-growth trust and confidence among them. After amputation, generally, people find it tough to focus on anything else as the sorrow is not very easy to overcome. So, an audible book or podcasts can be an excellent choice in this period. Listening to the right music also helps to soothe the mind.
Some more ways to deal with amputation
- Ask: Reach out to ask for help. People around you love you and care for you. They are willing to help you. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. Learn to use your other body parts to help yourself the best you can.
- Adapt: After the amputation, the first appearance in front of the outside world is the most difficult one. So, try practicing beforehand how to use stairs or if you need to use a public washroom then who will assist you there. Train yourself with him or her.
- Practise: Practice with a wheelchair or prosthetic body part.
- Tackle Depression: Take care of your mental health. Depression is usual after losing a limb. Try to help your mental state. Visit counselors or psychiatrists before your depression becomes a severe issue.
- Get some recreation: Indulge yourself in the works that you used to love, or you still like. This will help you to fight the negative thoughts that usually accumulate in one’s mind after a tough situation. Prepare yourself for the life that is ahead of you.
- Make a WishList: Make a list of things that you want to conquer and keep updating every day on what the things you can perform now are.
- Do It Yourself: Do chores for yourself. This will help you to boost up your confidence level. Fix short-term goals and improve yourself day by day.
Having mentioned all the methods above, dealing with amputation is absolutely not easy & requires a lot of mental strength. The treatments, medications, expert consultation are all out there. However, the real hero who can save you from this situation is one and only YOU. Mentally learning to deal with the situation goes a long way. The earlier you make up your mind that you won’t let this stop and affect your life, the more quickly you will overcome it. So, lift yourself and don’t let this pain stop your enormous potential.
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