What are some possible causes for amputations?

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Rick Sayegh
Rick Sayegh on behalf of MDLIVE
Internal Medicine
Possible causes are diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, and infection.

Amputations can involve as little as a single toe, or as much as from the hip down. Amputation of an upper bodypart is called an upper extremity amputation. Amputations of a lower body part is called a lower extremity amputation.

Here are some of the causes for amputations:

  • Traumatic Injury: Severe burns, gunshot wounds and car accidents are possible causes of traumatic injury. Body tissue components and blood vessels can be shredded or ripped beyond repair by such injuries, leaving no option other than amputation. For those age 50 and younger, the leading cause of amputation is traumatic injury.
  • Disease: Various diseases can cause irreversible destruction to body tissues. The leading example is peripheral artery disease (PAD). This disease hardens blood vessels to the point that life-sustaining blood cannot reach tissues in the body's extremities and the tissues eventually die. Diabetes contributes to PAD, while also causing nerve death, which is called neuropathy. Patients with neuropathy are more prone to cuts and lose their sense of touch. Because of their impaired circulation, it takes longer for the cuts to heal. Ninety percent of the amputations in the United States result from this condition.
  • Cancer: While it can cause severe damage to tissues, cancer can also cause necessary amputations in order to prevent malignant tumors from spreading.
  • Congenital amputation: A developing limb within the womb can have its blood flow constricted by other bands of tissue. When that happens, the limb can be lost permanently, and the baby is born with a congenital amputation.

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.
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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.