Why is daily exercise important to prevent problems with limb loss?

Guillermo J. Bernal, MD
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
Exercise is important to prevent problems with limb loss because you want patients to strengthen the other extremities because they will be using them more. Exercise also improves stamina, endurance and conditioning. Exercise is also good for improving circulation in the remaining limb.
Exercise is important with every patient. However, a lot of the patients with limb loss are patients who have diabetes, peripheral vascular disease or other chronic medical conditions. And those patients, overall, become deconditioned from being sedentary. So it’s very important for patients to maintain a level of activity regardless of it they’re going to lose the limb or not.
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Exercise is vital to keep your muscles flexible and strong and your joints moving through full range of motion. Early exercise after amputation surgery can help you to avoid painful contractures or deformities of the joints or muscles. In fact, the physical therapist will begin treatment almost immediately, by massaging your muscles while you are in bed. As you gain strength, exercises will be started to prevent deconditioning and muscle atrophy.

Although it’s hard to believe, your medical team will have you out of the bed as soon as you are able, helping you to walk and move around as you work toward being self-sufficient. If you are unable to walk on your own, the physical therapist will bring equipment to you that allows you to do strengthening and range of motion exercises while you are in bed. Improved flexibility also prevents abnormal force on the joints and helps to decrease injury.

Continue Learning about Amputation as a Physical Disability

Amputation as a Physical Disability

The National Library of Medicine defines an amputee as a person who as lost a limb, an arm or a leg. While other amputations (such as breast) are done, they are considered differently. The most common reason for amputation is not ...

injury, but peripheral artery disease. Other reasons include cancer or an extremely severe infection that is not responding. Amputees may have phantom pain which is pain that seems to be in the limb that is missing. This often goes away after a period of weeks to months. Part of rehabilitation after an amputation may be fitting with an artificial or prosthetic limb and training in how to use it. Amputees are encouraged to exercise, and special prosthetics have been developed to help golf swings or enable skiing.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.