Care of your residuum (commonly referred to as a stump)
You must take special care of your stump. If you do not wish to look at your stump at first, the staff will respect your wishes and allow you time to accustom yourself to the change in your body. Once you are used to your stump, it is important that you touch and feel your stump regularly. We understand that some people do not like the word stump, so let the staff know what you would like your amputated leg to be referred to. It is also important to remember that your foot is no longer there when you go to stand up to avoid falling and hurting your stump.How can I look after my stump?
Elevation – initially your stump will be swollen. When swelling is present it can reduce the blood supply to your stump and can delay healing of your wound. To help keep swelling to a minimum, make sure you elevate your stump when sitting. If you have been provided with a stump board for your wheelchair it is recommended that you use it.
Positioning – it is important that you try to keep your stump flat on the bed to prevent muscle tightness. For this reason we advise that you do not rest with a pillow under your stump. If you have had an amputation below the knee avoid lying or sitting with the knee bent for long periods of time.
Skin Care – while you are on the ward the nursing staff will be checking your stump and changing your dressing. A district nurse will be arranged to carry out your dressings at home. It is important that you regularly check the condition of your stump.
How often should I check my stump?
– it is important that you try to keep your stump flat on the bed to prevent muscle tightness. For this reason we advise that you do not rest with a pillow under your stump. If you have had an amputation below the knee avoid lying or sitting with the knee bent for long periods of time.– while you are on the ward the nursing staff will be checking your stump and changing your dressing. A district nurse will be arranged to carry out your dressings at home. It is important that you regularly check the condition of your stump.
You should check your stump every day. If you cannot see it you can use a mirror or ask someone to do it for you.
What am I looking for?
You are looking for any changes on your skin that if left untreated could cause problems. For example:
Changes in skin colour. Your stump should have a healthy skin colour.
Changes in skin temperature. Your stump should feel warm.
Red areas/rashes/breaks in your skin
How often should I wash my stump?
If you do not have any dressings on your stump you should wash it daily. You should use a mild soap and water and rinse properly. Make sure you dry the skin properly.
Can I use any creams/lotions on my stump?
Yes. If your wound has fully healed it is good to use a gentle moisturising cream. If you have dry or flaky skin it is helpful to use it once a day but if your skin is very dry, you may need to do it twice a day.
Do not use talc, this can make the skin too dry or may cause skin rashes.
Can I shave the hairs on my stump?
Never shave the hairs as this can make the skin sore and itchy and it could cause skin damage.
What should I do if I am worried about my stump?
If you have any concerns about your stump or experience a lot of pain once you have been discharged home please speak to your GP for advice.
Care of your remaining leg
It is important that you look after your remaining foot and leg once you have been discharged home. This is to reduce the risk of problems developing in your remaining leg.
How often should I check my leg and foot?
You should check your leg and foot every day. It is important to check in between your toes and the bottom of your foot. You can ask a carer/family member to do it for you.
How often should I wash my leg and foot?
If you do not have any dressings you should wash your foot/leg every one to two days. Make sure you wash and dry in between your toes. You can use a moisturising cream after you have dried your skin properly.
What should I be looking for?
If you notice any of the following changes you should seek advice from our GP
If I am a diabetic do I need to be more careful?
Yes. You need to:
Attend regular check ups for your diabetes
Check your blood sugars and write them down
Attend regular podiatry appointments
Never cut your own toe nails or skin on your foot
Make sure your shoes are a good fit – they shouldn’t be too big or too tight as it may cause the skin to rub or blister
Check the inside of your shoes to make sure there are no objects inside them
Always wear a clean sock. Make sure the seam does not rub your toes and that it is not too tight on your leg.
Following your discharge home
Important points to consider once you have been discharged home:
You may feel more tired than usual for the first few weeks following your discharge from hospital. It is therefore important that you try and pace yourself.
As your mobility will have changed since you were last home, it is very important that you always think of your safety whatever task you are undertaking.
Looking after yourself is extremely important to lessen your risk of developing further problems in the future.
How can I help look after myself?
If you were previously a smoker you must make a determined effort to stop as this may damage the circulation in your other leg. Many people find it difficult to stop smoking, but there are many aids now available which can increase your chances of success. Please ask the staff looking after you on the ward or your GP for more information.
It is important that you take the medications that have been prescribed for you. Your medications can help to reduce the risk of further damage occurring in your arteries.
Diet and weight control are important following an amputation as putting on weight will make mobilising with a wheelchair or an artificial limb more difficult.
Will I be able to drive after my amputation?
It is a legal requirement to inform the DVLA and your insurance company of your change in circumstances. Your ability to drive again depends upon your amputation and your car. Adaptations can be made to adapt your vehicle to satisfy the requirements of the DVLA. It may be advisable to take specialist driving lessons before driving an adapted car.
What is the disabled blue badge scheme?
The Blue Badge Scheme is a service for people with severe mobility problems that enables badge holders to park close to where they need to go. The scheme operates throughout the UK, and is administered by local councils who deal with applications and issue badges on behalf of the Government. If you want to apply for a badge you need to apply to your local council, which is usually the one that you pay your Council Tax to.