There is much written about how having a limb amputated is really major in terms of both the effect on the body and the effect that it has on a person from a psychological perspective. Indeed the whole field of post amputation pain does seem to be moving on and acknowledging that the psychological impact of having a limb amputated, will play a role in aiding or hampering recovery. There is also a growing awareness that those people who experience post limb amputation depression or anxiety will perhaps recover more slowly.
Situations When Amputation Takes Place
Generally there are two ‘situations’ prior to a limb being amputated. Sometimes the limb amputation is planned, so a person prepares to go into hospital and have a limb amputated. The other time is when a person is involved in a very severe accident or sustains an injury that is so severe that a limb has to be amputated.
In other words, there is never a ‘good’ situation where you will have a limb amputated. However, sometimes those who who know little but mean well will offer glib advice to people who have experienced a limb amputation. If it was planned this advice can be along the lines of ‘Well at least you could prepare for it’ if it was unplanned then they offer the equally unhelpful: ‘Well you didn’t have to worry about it before hand’.
Neither of these platitudes are constructive and there are times when saying nothing can be more of a comfort than saying the wrong thing.
Anxiety After A Limb Amputation:
People who have had a limb amputated have gone through an enormous trauma, whether they knew it was going to happen or not. Often there will be a period of recovery, then some people almost reach a plateau or they find that the enormity of the amputation sinks in. They almost have delayed shock or anxiety to varying degrees.
Given that almost 80% of people who have a limb amputated will experience post limb amputation pain and may also have anxiety either mild, moderate or severe, it is vital to have appropriate treatment and to treat the whole person, not just the amputation.
Healing Approach To Post Limb Amputation Pain
The most effective treatment for anyone experiencing post limb amputation pain is not just treating the pain (useful as this is) but also looking at how the amputation has affected them as a person. What impact has it had on them at different levels and is the impact changing. People react differently to different things and that is why treatment for post-limb amputation pain needs to be carried out in a way that is very much focussed on the individual and also looks at the person in terms of the pain, the physical amputation, the rest of the body and what is happening in that person’s mind. How are they coping with the trauma? What is the physical, emotional and psychological impact and how can these all be treated to ensure the best results in terms of easing post limb amputation pain?