Sometimes life threatening diseases can result in amputation.

The sheer thought of amputation can be difficult to contemplate, but the fact of the matter is that it’s sometimes the only solution. According to the Amputee Coalition, there are currently 2 million people living in the U.S. with limb loss, and an estimated 185,000 amputations are performed annually. There is a variety of ailments that can result in amputation, so it’s important that you know which wound care methods are best for a speedy recovery.

Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease that can spawn severe side effects if not managed efficiently. Amputation is one of those more grave consequences and while the procedure is ultimately the worst case scenario for diabetics, about 60 percent of lower-limb amputations in people aged 20 or older are the result of diabetic complications according to the American Diabetes Association. Nerve damage and poor blood circulation are the two major factors of diabetes that can ultimately lead to amputation. Maintaining blood sugar control is the best way for diabetics to avoid limb removal, as is regularly monitoring your glycated hemoglobin levels. According to Diabetes.co.uk, reducing the amount of glycated hemoglobin in your body by just 1 percent can reduce your risk of amputation by approximately 43 percent. Diabetic ulcer complications can also potentially lead to surgical removal, so always monitoring and inspecting your feet for the symptoms of ulcers, including numbness and burning sensations, is the best way to prevent amputation.

Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is a condition where plaque buildup in the arteries causes them to harden, eventually leading to a lack of blood reaching organs such as the brain, heart and kidneys. Sometimes, atherosclerosis becomes so bad that peripheral arterial disease will develop, which usually causes your lower limbs to no longer receive the necessary blood flow to continue functioning. When these arteries become this blocked up, infections such as gangrene can begin to grow, which means that it could be time to amputate a lower limb. The three biggest health factors that play into the progression of these severe complications of atherosclerosis are:

  1. High levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood
  2. Elevated blood pressure
  3. Smoking tobacco

Frequent blood tests and implementing a healthier lifestyle are essentially the primary factors in eliminating amputation as a possibility.

Bone cancer

When bone cancer begins to spread from the tissue and out into blood vessels, amputation of the affected limb might be necessary to prevent the cancer from spreading to different parts of the body. Other types of cancer, such as melanoma, not only produce infections or black moles upon your skin, they can also mutate cells that will heavily damage your immune system, causing a need for surgical removal. What is difficult about these types of amputations is that there aren’t typically any outstanding precautions or measures you can take that will eliminate the risk of this surgery.

Recovery

While you are in the hospital recovering from the surgery, clinicians will change the dressings on your surgical wounds and teach you how to effectively replace them on your own. You will also be prescribed medication to help ease pain and reduce your risk of infection around the amputated limb. Physical therapy will be highly recommended, and should start around 10-14 days after surgery. These sessions will provide you with exercises to improve muscle strength and control, guidelines on how to get back to performing the tasks and activities you’re used to, as well as available enrollment in counseling classes to help you adjust to your new body.