The Many Complications of Traumatic Amputation

The Many Complications of Traumatic Amputation Accidents happen every day. Often they are brought about by someone’s negligence, such as a distracted driver on their phone or carelessness by your boss at the warehouse. Sometimes, these accidents leave us with minor injuries: scrapes, bruises, or a twisted ankle. These take relatively little time to heal, and you may not even have to miss work. Your life may barely be disrupted.

However, more serious injuries are not uncommon, and can leave a victim in agony, out of work, and changed for the rest of their life. One type of these catastrophic injuries is traumatic amputation. Traumatic amputations occur suddenly, and may cause you to lose months of income, or even cost you your job. Activities that you enjoyed before may be lost to you forever. You will have to adapt your entire life to this injury. If someone’s negligence caused your accident, an Oklahoma City traumatic amputation lawyer can work to ensure that you will be compensated for your injuries, pain, and suffering.

What is traumatic amputation?

Unlike surgical amputations, which come about from having to remove the limb surgically due to infections, disease, or other forms of tissue destruction, traumatic amputations occur when the limb is injured so severely that it is separated from the body at the time of the incident, or later in the hospital when it is deemed that the damage to the limb is too great to be saved.

According to Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, about 45% of amputations are traumatic amputations. There are several different types of amputations depending on where the damage was done, and different types of surgical procedures that can be used to remove the limb or appendage.

What kinds of complications can develop from amputations?

When you suffer from such an extreme injury, you not only suffer through the pain and tragic loss of your limb, but also the complications that can arise from the injury. Complications from the amputation itself include:

  • Phantom limb pain. Also known as PLP, Phantom limb pain is “pain that is localized in the region of the removed body part.” While it is not well understood, the sensation is common, occurring in 60-80% of all amputees after their amputation. Risk factors for PLP include psychological distress, and chronic pain before and after the amputation. PLP generally fades over time, sometimes taking several weeks or a couple years to fully disappear, though some patients report the symptoms never fading. Often, the pain seems to be originating from the limb that has been amputated, which is due to remaining nerves in the stump growing to form neuromas (thickened tissue at the end of the stump that is sensitive to pressure). These neuromas generate impulses that the brain registers as pain. There are many different types of treatments for PLP depending on the base driver for the pain (psychological, musculoskeletal, etc.).
  • Oedema: When fluid builds up around the stump of the amputated limb, this is known as stump oedema. In cases of amputation, oedema often occurs when, during the surgery to remove the limb, tissues are mishandled. Inactivity and reduced muscle tone can also be a contributing factor of oedema. According to Physiopedia, “the complications that can arise from stump oedema include wound breakdown, pain, reduced mobility and difficulties with prosthetic fitting.” Treatments and preventative measures against stump oedema include: compression socks, exercise, wheelchair stump boards, rigid removable dressings, and PPAM (pneumatic post-amputation mobility) aiding.
  • Infection. Infections are not uncommon in traumatic amputation victims, and can increase patient fatality and the chances of developing PLP, complications in healing, and the probability that a prosthetic will be ill-fitting. Amputees may be especially vulnerable to Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), or Staph infection, which is resistant to antibiotics. Often spread in hospitals or healthcare facilities, MRSA can lead to further infections such as pneumonia, and even sepsis.
  • Tissue necrosis. Necrosis, or the death of cells in body tissue, can happen in the stump of the amputated limb. This occurs when the part of the body does not receive enough oxygen or nutrition from their blood to that area.
  • Other related pain. No doubt, the most common complication of amputation is pain. Not just pain in the area, but pain throughout the body as it adapts to the loss of a limb. For example, musculoskeletal pain, described by Physiopedia as “pain from other injuries suffered during a traumatic amputation, musculoskeletal pain caused by abnormal gait patterns, pain caused by normal aging processes, or excessive wear and tear on the joints and soft tissue of the residual limb.”
  • Prosthetic pain. There are many complications that come from the use of a prosthetic. These expensive pieces of equipment are meant to make mobility and day-to-day activities easier. However, according to Physiopedia, pain and difficulties arise due to:
    • Ill-fitting socket – lack of distal contact, insufficient bony relief, too tight, too loose, pistoning causing friction/blisters
    • Incorrect alignment and pressure distribution
    • Incorrectly donned prosthesis, including the number/thickness of socks
    • Excessive sweating/skin breakdown
  • Muscle weakness, contractures and joint instability. It is important that after the amputation, an amputee begins physical therapy so as to avoid further stiffness, weakness, and pain in the area. Bedrest can affect the muscles and joint function, so making sure you seek out proper amputation rehabilitation exercises and professionals is key.

As we can see, an amputation affects the life of a patient greatly. Not only do amputees have to deal with the pain and difficulties that arise from having a limb removed in such a traumatic fashion, but they must deal with lingering pain, aches, stiffness, even further surgeries and the possibility of fatal infection. Even if they endure these complications, the devices they need to help improve their life after such an accident may cause problems of their own. This is all without mentioning the financial cost of the surgeries, the medication, the therapies, the prosthetics, and mobility aids such as wheelchairs.

For these reasons, it is essential that if you have lost a limb due to someone’s negligence you seek out the aid of an Oklahoma City traumatic amputation attorney. Having the resources to support yourself and free yourself of some pain is something you more than deserve. Cunningham & Mears are here for you. We work to ensure that you secure the compensation you deserve for having to unnecessarily suffer such pain, hardship, and financial loss. To schedule a free initial consultation, call us at (405) 232-1212, or use our contact page. We proudly serve the citizens of Oklahoma City.