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What's It Like: To be fitted for a prosthetic

Oklahoma has one of the highest rates in the U.S. for diabetes-related amputation. People with diabetes can suffer from problems with circulation that can lead to the amputation of part of their leg..
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: October 21, 2012

If this is your first fitting, you will wear the temporary socket for a few months. Otherwise, you will wear the temporary prosthetic up to a few weeks.

Does it hurt?

Some people who have had a limb amputated suffer from phantom pain. It's a pain you could feel from the area of your body that's no longer there. Medical experts say these sensations originate in the spinal cord and brain. The amount of phantom pain felt varies person to person.

Also, if your socket is fit wrong, you could feel pain, especially if it's too tight and restricting blood flow.

Some patients develop neuromas in places where a nerve was cut during amputation. Neuromas are little balls of nerves that can be quite painful when touched. The pain can be similar to the sudden pain felt when a dentist hits a cavity.

What's the recovery time?

It could take anywhere from a few months to several months to feel comfortable functioning with your prosthetic. Before, during and after you're fitted, you likely will see an occupational or physical therapist to help you adjust to using your prosthetic limb. The amount of time it will take you to get used to your prosthetic partially will depend on which limb you lost and how much of it was amputated. Also, it will depend on how comfortable your prosthetic fit is and also your attitude and the support around you.

People who lose a part of their body might suffer from grief and depression. Most insurance providers cover counseling sessions, and there are also counseling clinics for people who are underinsured and uninsured.

What's the follow-up?

You might need a new socket sooner than you need a new prosthetic. During the first few years, your residual limb likely will undergo various changes. Depending on your age, body changes and activity level, your prosthesis can lasts several months to several years.

Sources: Chuck Anderson, an upper limb specialist at Hanger Clinic; Hanger Clinic; Capt. Jon White, 40 Commando British Royal Marine; MedLinePlus; The Mayo Clinic; The Amputee Coalition.

by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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