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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

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