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What causes residual limb pain after an amputation?

A motor vehicle accident only takes seconds to happen. Even so, many people say it happened in slow motion and faster than their brains could process what was happening all at the same time. The lucky ones don't remember every detail such as the sound of crunching metal, the smell of antifreeze, gas or some other chemical, and the feeling of utter loss of control. Others are lucky enough to fully recover and have little physical traces of what happened.

Not everyone walks away without a glaring reminder. Some suffer the mental and physical repercussions for life. If you lost a limb as the result of a car crash, then you are already all too familiar with this. You must deal with all of the health consequences that come with that reminder. One of them is residual limb pain.

What is residual limb pain?

Doctors refer to the pain associated with the remaining portion of the limb you lost as residual limb pain. It's not enough you may deal with phantom limb pain, but you suffer through this type of pain as well. A variety of things could contribute to it, such as the following:

  • If the bone at the end of your remaining limb was not properly prepared for a prosthesis during surgery, you could end up in pain every time you put it on. You may need additional surgery to correct this problem in order to find relief.
  • Another source of pain comes from a tangle of nerves under the skin called a neuroma. If the neuroma is where your limb contacts your prosthesis, you could experience significant pain.
  • If you suffered from some underlying disease prior to the amputation, you will need to manage it in order to keep it from contributing to your pain. For example, a diabetic with neuropathy could experience more pain than someone without this condition in the same circumstances does.
  • If one or more of your nerves gets trapped in the scar tissue of your residual limb, this will cause pain as well. Your doctor may have advised you to massage the amputation site and/or use elastic wraps on your remaining limb in order to help prevent this from occurring.

In some cases, your issues may resolve as the time after your surgery increases. It's perfectly normal to experience post-operative pain, and if you follow all of your doctor's instructions and take care of yourself and your residual limb, you could avoid these types of pain.

Losing a limb can't help but change your life, but that doesn't mean you can't still live a full life. If another person's negligence led to your current circumstances, you may pursue the compensation you need and deserve in order to do just that.

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