Navigate Up

Amputation of the Foot or Leg: Positioning Tips

After amputation, your lower extremity (limb) will be more comfortable if you work to keep swelling down. In addition, it is a good idea to keep up the limb’s flexibility (movement). If you lose flexibility, you could develop permanent tightening of the muscles, a condition called contractures. This could cause pain and have an effect on your ability to walk and move around.

Here are a few tips to keep up flexibility and decrease swelling:

Lie on your stomach on a firm bed or couch.

    • If possible, lie on your stomach for 30 minutes every day.
    • Keep your hips flat on the bed or couch.
    • Keep your legs close together and your knees straight.
    • Don’t put pillows between your thighs or under your stomach or hips.

Lie flat on your back on a firm bed or couch.

    • Be sure to change position every 1 to 2 hours.
    • Keep your limb flat with your hip and knee straight.
    • Keep your legs close together.
    • If your amputation was below the knee, keep your knee cap pointed to the ceiling.
    • Don’t twist or rotate your limb.
    • Don’t put pillows in between your thighs or under your hip or knee.
    • Don’t hang your residual limb (remaining part of the limb) off the side of the bed.

Sit on a firm surface. Use an armchair if possible.

    • Try not to sit for longer than 30 minutes at a time. Get up and move around regularly.
    • Sit so your body weight is evenly spread through your buttocks.
    • If your amputation was above the knee, sit in a chair that is deep enough to support your limb when you sit all the way back. Keep your legs close together when you sit. Don’t let your limb drift out to the side.
    • If your amputation was below the knee, support your limb on a firm surface to keep your knee straight. Don’t sit with your residual limb bent at the knee.

Reviewed January 2011

©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

© UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com