Are There Long-Term Physical Effects of Using or Not Using a Prosthesis?

Each individual must choose whether using a prosthesis is best for their needs and lifestyle. The truth is, there are both positive and negative prosthetic physical effects, so these must be weighed carefully. Consider the following pros and cons as you decide whether or not to use a prosthesis.

Negative long-term physical effects

  • Skin issues: Using a prosthesis can cause increased skin temperature at the attachment site. This can result in heat rash, blisters, abrasions, ingrown hairs and contact dermatitis. If not properly treated, these issues can pose serious health threats. Additionally, the prosthesis liner can provide a moist environment where bacteria may grow, which can cause further skin problems.
  • Muscle strain: Prosthetic physical effects may include muscle imbalances and strains, posture issues and gait abnormalities. Hip and back pain are common among prosthetic users. Arthritis is also likely to develop in the intact limb, since amputees tend to put more load on that limb.
  • Atrophy: Without the use of a prosthesis, amputees may be unable to remain as active as they otherwise could. This can lead to muscle atrophy and poor cardiovascular health. For lower-limb amputees, it can mean wheelchair use, which can result in physical complications from sitting all day.

Positive long-term physical effects

  • Phantom pain reduction: Phantom pain can be a significant source of trauma for some amputees. It has been found that the use of a prosthetic often reduces the frequency and severity of phantom limb pain.
  • Increased fitness: The use of a prosthesis can help the amputee remain more active, making it easier to participate in activities such as walking, hiking, cycling, dancing and other hobbies that increase cardiovascular fitness. This can help improve the person’s overall health.
  • Reduced limb strain: Without the use of a prosthesis, amputees are forced to rely more heavily on the limb that is intact. This can lead to overuse, strain and muscle pain on that side of the body. A prosthesis can balance out the workload and prevent straining of the intact limb.
  • Lifestyle options: If the use of a prosthesis increases overall health and makes additional activities possible, the person will have broader options for living situations, work opportunities, hobbies and entertainment. This may, in turn, further improve physical health.

Is a prosthesis right for me?

It is important to consider all the possible prosthetic physical effects as you decide if a prosthesis is right for you. If you’re not sure whether the long-term physical effects are worth it, consult with a prosthetics specialist to discuss your needs and goals.

Get more answers

Prothotic Laboratories, Inc. is a family owned and operated prosthetics and orthotics specialist offering the highest quality products, services and patient care for all of your prosthetic needs. We specialize in pediatric prosthetics, adult custom-designed prosthetics for the upper or lower extremities and much more. For more information on the long-term physical effects of a prosthesis, contact us today. Our experts can provide the information you need to make an informed decision based on your health and lifestyle needs. Reach our team at 631-753-4444.