Premier Prosthetics & Orthotics Blog

Combating Residual Limb Edema

As we enjoy ourselves this summer, it’s important to make wellness a priority as we have fun! While the goal of rehabilitation and prosthetic use is to return to the level of activity you were used to pre-amputation, there are complications that can develop over time. Proper hygiene technique is the best way to avoid the skin around the amputation site becoming irritated and even breaking down. Beyond this, a chronic condition known as residual limb edema may develop, which can lead to swelling, lesions, and in severe cases, blood clotting.

Causes of Residual Limb Edema

Edema can have multiple causes, but amputees who have recently begun wearing their prosthetic are at an increased predisposition to developing early symptoms. Common causes include:
  • Lying/sitting in one position for too long 
  • Not drinking enough water 
  • Poor nutrition (inadequate potassium or magnesium) 
  • Indications of certain drugs 
  • Kidney, liver, or heart disease 

Practices and Prevention

For those who suffer from edema as a result of a more serious condition, consult with a healthcare professional to determine your treatment options. Otherwise, simple lifestyle changes may be enough to mitigate the worst symptoms. As always, if you are unsure if your symptoms are a sign of a more serious condition, lean on the side of caution and contact your doctor.
Maintaining a regular exercise schedule is key in preventing a whole host of disorders, edema being only one. Regular exercise promotes circulation foremost, along with preventing your muscles from regressing and actually becoming weaker. Deep Vein Thrombosis is a disorder that affects all sorts of people, amputee or not. The thrombocytes in the blood end up getting bottlenecked at certain areas, increasing the likelihood of clot formation. Sitting or lying in the same position for too long is harmful to anyone because of this. Those with limb loss should be especially mindful you aren’t causing damage to yourself by staying still for too long.
Water consumption is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle as well. Without water, it would be impossible for our bodies to function, so depriving it of water is detrimental for a multitude of reasons. Now, it may feel counterintuitive to drink water when you’re trying to get rid of excess water, but you should make sure you’re remaining adequately hydrated. Dehydration actually causes your body to retain the water it has, leading to the symptoms of edema taking a lot longer to disappear.
As important as water is, the food you eat plays a role as well. Certain foods can aid your body in clearing edema, while the lack of other foods can hinder it. Seeds, nuts, olives, and avocados all have key nutrients that can work wonders, not to mention these are all very healthy options for snack-time! Give natural diuretics like coffee, parsley, and watercress a try. These herbs and spices not only contain scarce nutrients but also work to flush your system. As a final note, avoid over-consumption of sodium. Salt helps to retain fluids, and if you have a lot of salt in your system, then it will be hard to get rid of excess water.
Lastly, check any medication you currently take to see if it indicates edema as a side-effect. While you shouldn’t make any changes to your dosage or frequency, you can have a conversation with your doctor about potential solutions.
At Premier Prosthetics and Orthotics, we want you to stay in tip-top shape from head to toe. When you’re a part of the PPO family, our practice goes beyond simply service— we care about you, not only as our patient but as a person. For more information on how we can help you be active and healthy this summer, contact us at 314-262-8900 or 


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram