September 11th, 2020
Prosthetic devices involve a socket, which is the component of the prosthesis that fits against your residual limb. This part of your prosthesis should fit properly for optimal health and mobility. Your prosthetic socket should be snug, but not too tight, to help keep your prosthesis on properly and limit instability. If you have noticed changes in your prosthetic fit, then you may need to visit your prosthetist for a re-fitting or to discuss strategies for achieving a better fit.
A poorly fitting socket can cause many different issues. An ill-fitting prosthesis can increase the risk for skin breakdown, blisters, and ulcers. It can affect balance and may make it painful to wear your prosthesis. In addition, it can lead to secondary conditions like discomfort or pain in other areas of your body like your back. A poorly fitting prosthesis can make movement more difficult and cause other parts of your body to overcompensate. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that your prosthetic socket isn’t too tight or too loose.
When your socket is too small, you may have difficulty donning your prosthesis. In addition, you might notice that your residual limb doesn’t fit all the way in, leaving a gap at the bottom. This can also make it seem like your prosthesis is too tall or long. When the socket is too big, then you might notice that your residual limb is moving around in the socket. You may even notice “pistoning” where your limb slips up and down inside the socket.
Some other signs of a socket that is too big for your residual limb include bruising at the end of the limb. You might also notice pressure at the end of the limb from bottoming out in the socket. Some people feel like their prosthesis is too short because their residual limb fits too far inside the socket. Because of the many negative effects of using a poorly fitting prosthesis, it’s best to talk to your physician and prosthetist about maintaining the right fit and when to replace your socket.
Your residual limb can change in volume hour by hour and gradually over time. These changes can make it difficult to fit in your prosthetic socket. Part of making sure your prosthesis fits properly is managing volume changes. You should also frequently evaluate how the socket feels. Also, keep in touch with your prosthetist about any changes you notice. There are several strategies for managing volume changes in your residual limb. Some of these include lifestyle changes like maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise. In some cases, it may mean replacing your prosthetic socket to ensure a good fit.
Generally speaking, small changes that happen throughout the day can be managed well with socks, shrinkers, sheaths, and other such supplies. However, large changes can mean talking to your prosthetist about a whole new socket or prosthesis.
Even small daily or hourly changes in residual limb volume can alter the fit of your socket. For example, most people notice that their residual limb is larger in the morning and slowly becomes smaller throughout the day. This is why it’s vital to use proper compression supplies, such as shrinkers, before donning your prosthesis. In addition, eating foods with high sodium content can encourage water retention, which may also lead to your residual limb having more volume than normal. Therefore, it may be a good idea to avoid these foods if possible.
Long, hot showers can be pleasant, but can also cause your blood vessels to expand and send more blood toward the surface of your skin. This also may increase volume for your residual limb. Showering before bed may be a better option for you, or, if not, try showering as early as possible and ensure you wear your shrinker for enough time so you can properly fit into your prosthetic socket.
Dehydration may also cause your residual limb to be smaller than normal. It’s important for both your health and your prosthetic fit to drink plenty of water. For changes throughout the day where your limb is slightly smaller than normal, you can try adding extra padding or wearing higher ply socks. Work with your physician and prosthetist to find solutions for these small volume changes throughout the day.
However, significant changes in residual limb volume may require a replacement socket or even a replacement prosthesis. Even five pounds of weight loss or gain can be enough to affect socket fit and warrant a re-fitting. Therefore, it’s vital to maintain a healthy weight by finding a diet and exercise routine that works for you. Your physician can offer guidance on how to manage your weight for your health and for prosthetic fit. In addition, over time, your socket can begin to wear out and impact prosthetic fit. Therefore, it’s important to talk to your prosthetist about how often your socket will need to be replaced.
For pronounced changes in prosthetic socket fit, it’s vital to contact your prosthetist. They may recommend several options, one of which may involve a socket replacement or a prosthesis replacement, depending on how major the changes are and how much they impact the fit. If your prosthetist suggests a replacement socket or prosthesis, then you will work together to find a better fit for your prosthesis. Remember, it can take several adjustments to create the proper fit for your prosthesis, so it’s important to report any discomfort or skin irritation during the fitting process.
At Innovative Prosthetics, we specialize in prosthetic care throughout Texas. We are a leader in prosthetic technologies and provide advanced solutions to help you reach your potential, achieve your goals, and stay active. Our prosthetists offer personalized solutions for your prosthesis, including multiple different socket designs and different interface methods to ensure your socket is a great fit. We are dedicated to providing high quality, custom care to fit your needs. Because we fabricate everything in our lab, your prosthesis is completely tailored to you. Our team also designs health care plans specific to you, from routine follow-ups to constant communication. Request an appointment today to take a step in the right direction for your prosthetic device. We are here to serve you!