New to limb difference

Tom Williams /

Coming to terms with the psychological impact of an amputation is often as important as coping with the physical demands. 

You may be:

  • coping with the loss of sensation from the amputated limb
  • coping with the loss of function from the amputated limb
  • coping with your own, and other people’s, perception of body image

This can lead to all kinds of negative feelings such as worry, fear, guilt or sadness.

Which can lead to negative emotions and thoughts. Negative emotions and thoughts commonly experienced by people after an amputation include:

  • depression – a common mental health problem that causes people to experience low mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration.
  • anxiety – what we feel when we are worried, tense or afraid – particularly about things that are about to happen, or which we think could happen in the future.

Exercise can really help to relieve difficult emotions. Yoga is a gentle form of exercise you can easily try anywhere. Have a go with fellow amputee Jo!

  • denial – refusing to accept you need to make changes, such as having physiotherapy or rethinking how you perform a task, to adapt to life with an amputation.
  • grief – a profound sense of loss.

It is important for you to know that this is very normal. So are any other feelings you may experience, there is no rule as to how you should feel.

Reaching out to other amputees you meet and sharing experiences can really help you to make sense of how you feel as well as finding reassurance in the stories of other people who have been through similar things as you.

It’s a great idea to ask your prosthetist or other medical professionals questions. The more you know, the better you understand and the more confident you will feel in your new body.

Other important things to know:

  • Phantom limb is the sensation that an amputated or missing limb is still attached. Approximately 80 to 100% of individuals with an amputation experience phantom sensations in their amputated limb.
  • The feeling of your amputated limb still being attached after it has been amputated is very normal. Around 80 to 100% of amputees experience it.
  • Swelling of the stump after surgery is normal. This swelling can continue once the patient is discharged. Using a compression shrinker sock will help with swelling and the stump’s shape. It may also reduce phantom pain and give a feeling of support to the limb.
  • A prosthetic leg may not be suitable for everyone but your mobility centre will be able to advise you on other assistive devices such as crutches or wheelchairs.
  • Taking care of your assistive devices means they will last you much longer so not only can you keep living your life but you won’t have to buy replacements as often. Ask the mobility centre staff for tips of how to keep them in good working order. 
  • Keeping your stump, socket and stump sock or bandage clean is essential to reduce discomfort and infection. Learn more here.
  • Doing your at home physiotherapy exercises keeps your body strong and healthy and helps you to use your assistive devices comfortably and correctly. Being committed to performing these exercises will give you confidence to move around. Learn more here.