You were in the hospital because your foot was removed. Your recovery time may vary depending on your overall health and any complications that may have occurred. This article gives you information on what to expect and how to care for yourself during your recovery.
When You're in the Hospital
You have had a foot amputation. You may have had an accident, or your foot may have had an infection or disease and doctors could not save it.
What to Expect at Home
You may feel sad, angry, frustrated, or depressed. All of these feelings are normal and may arise in the hospital or when you get home. Be sure you talk with your health care provider about the feelings you're having.
It will take time for you to learn to use a walker and a wheelchair. It will also take time to learn to get in and out of the wheelchair.
You may be getting a prosthesis, a man-made part to replace your limb that was removed. You will have to wait for the prosthesis to be made. When you have it, getting used to it will take time.
You may have pain in your limb for several days after the surgery. You may also have a feeling that your limb is still there. This is called phantom sensation.
Family and friends can help. Talking with them about your feelings may make you feel better. They can also help you do things around your house and when you go out.
If you feel sad or depressed, ask your provider about seeing a mental health counselor for help with your feelings about your amputation.
If you have diabetes, keep your blood sugar under control.
If you have poor blood flow to your foot, follow your provider's instructions for diet and medicines.
You may eat your normal foods when you get home.
If you smoke, stop before your surgery if you can. Smoking can affect blood flow and slow down healing. Ask your provider for help on how to quit.
Wound and Foot Care
Do not use your limb until your provider tells you it is OK. This will be at least 2 weeks or longer after your surgery. Do not put any weight at all on your wound. Do not even touch it to the ground, unless your doctor says so. Do not drive.
Keep the wound clean and dry. Do not take a bath, soak your wound, or swim. If your doctor says you can, clean the wound gently with mild soap. Do not rub the wound. Only allow water to flow gently over it.
After your wound heals, keep it open to the air unless your provider tells you something different. After dressings have been removed, wash your stump with mild soap and water every day. Do not soak it. Dry it well.
Inspect your limb every day. Use a mirror if it is hard for you to see all around it. Look for any red areas or dirt.
Wear your elastic bandage or shrinker sock on the stump all the time. If you are using an elastic bandage, rewrap it every 2 to 4 hours. Make sure there are no creases in it. Wear your stump protector whenever you are out of bed.
Ask your provider for help with pain. Two things that may help include:
- Tapping along the scar and in small circles along the stump, if it is not painful
- Rubbing the scar and stump gently with linen or soft cotton
Practice transfers with or without the prosthesis at home.
- Go from your bed to your wheelchair, a chair, or the toilet.
- Go from a chair to your wheelchair.
- Go from your wheelchair to the toilet.
If you use a walker, stay as active as you can with it.
Keep your stump at or above the level of your heart when you are lying down. When you are sitting, do not cross your legs. It can stop the blood flow to your stump.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your provider if:
- Your stump looks redder, or there are red streaks on your skin going up your leg
- Your skin feels warmer to touch
- There is swelling or bulging around the wound
- There is new drainage or bleeding from the wound
- There are new openings in the wound, or the skin around the wound is pulling away
- Your temperature is above 101.5°F (38.6°C) more than once
- Your skin around the stump or wound is dark or is turning black
- Your pain is worse and your pain medicines are not controlling it
- Your wound has gotten larger
- A foul smell is coming from the wound
Amputation - foot - discharge; Trans-metatarsal amputation - discharge
Richardson DR. Amputations of the foot. In: Azar FM, Beaty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 14th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 15.
Toy PC. General principles of amputations. In: Azar FM, Beaty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 14th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 14
US Department of Veterans Affairs website. VA/DoD clinical practice guideline: Rehabilitation of lower limb amputation (2017). www.healthquality.va.gov/guidelines/Rehab/amp. Updated July 30, 2020. Accessed July 11, 2022.
Review Date 6/8/2022
Updated by: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.