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Weight Bearing Restrictions

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Updated August 13, 2007

After lower extremity surgery, your orthopedic doctor may limit the amount of weight you can place on your operated leg. This restriction is necessary to provide adequate time for proper bone healing. It also allows for any hardware that was placed during the surgical procedure to remain in the proper position. Understanding weight bearing restrictions is often confusing. Below you will learn the different types of weight bearing restrictions as well as how to perform them.

Non-Weight Bearing:

Non-weight bearing means that NO weight can be placed on the operated leg. This is the most restrictive of all weight bearing limitations. Since you are not able to bear any weight on the leg, an assistive device, such as a walker or crutches, will be necessary for you to walk.

Toe Touch Weight Bearing:

Toe touch weight bearing means that only the toes on your operated leg are able to contact the ground. This is for balance only, however, and thus no significant amount of weight should be placed through your toes. As a result, an assistive device such as a walker or crutches will again be necessary for you to walk.

Partial Weight Bearing:

Partial weight bearing allows you to place half of your weight on the operated extremity. Begin by using a scale to see how much pressure is on your affected leg when half of your weight is placed on it.

Make a mental note of this, and limit the pressure placed on your operated leg during walking to this restriction. As full weight bearing is still not allowed, crutches, a cane, or walker can help you walk without losing your balance.

Full Weight Bearing:

Full weight bearing allows you to place all of your weight on the operated extremity. There are no restrictions in regards to the amount of weight placed on the leg, therefore assistive devices are usually not necessary.

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