You already know that the size and shape of your residual limb is constantly changing. Throughout your day, these subtle or not so subtle changes in volume mean your comfort level and prosthetic fit are fluctuating too.
Layering prosthetic socks is an easy way to adjust the volume of your socket, giving you a better, more consistent fit. A too tight or too loose socket can cause pain, abrasions, or other uncomfortable issues. Prosthetic socks not only affect volume, they act as padding, protect your skin from the effects of pressure and friction in the skin-socket interface, and can create a cooling effect by wicking sweat away from your skin.
Prosthetic socks and liners are vital to your comfort when you're wearing a prosthesis. Yet many people aren't taking advantage of all the benefits socks have to offer--most likely because you're not wearing enough sock ply (thickness.)How to Get More From Your Socks & Liners
Whether you think of your socks as a means to comfort, a way to control volume, or both, there are ways to make your socks last longer and work more efficiently.
- Have a big supply. Have enough socks to wear a clean pair every day of the week and to allow for the several days between washing and wearing. Prosthetic socks should be worn in rotation, which gives their fibers time to regain their natural resilience and elasticity. You can also use a rubber ball to help the sock retain its shape.
- Take good care of them. You should wash your socks daily. After a long day of being stretched out and sweated on, proper care of your sock will restore its shape and soften it up again. Regular washing means your socks will be more comfortable and they'll last longer.
- Layer with varying sock thicknesses throughout the day. Throughout the day you can keep an optimal socket fit if you use socks to adjust for changes in the size of your leg. Sock thickness is measured in "plys," usually between 1-ply and 6-ply. Combine various ply socks and use filler socks for fine tuning during your day. If you discover in the morning that 5-ply sock fit is too tight, try a 3-ply and a filler sock -- trial different combinations to keep your socket from fitting too loose or too snug.
- Keep a sock diary so that you can accurately report your habits to your Physician or Prosthetist. An accurate sock log may be useful for diagnosing and treating socket fit issues, or for helping you to improve your method of volume control. Be sure to make notes on why you changed your sock as well as the time of day you changed it.
- Is your lower back troubling you or now your knee cap hurts? Please add additional socks to your prosthetic regimen. Carry a few in your pocket or purse. When you have too tittle or too many sock ply, your leg is either too short or long. Unless you "dial in" your sock ply count you can easily experience low back issues and knee pain.
- Wearing socks will extend the life of your prosthetic liner. Maintaining the correct socket volume will help extend the life of your gel liner. A loose socket allows excessive friction that your liner graciously absorbs. Overtime you may notice premature wear along the front of your liner.
Changing your socks frequently and using the right combo of sock thicknesses (sock ply) will help you maintain a better socket fit, which is essential for residual limb health and your overall well-being. Sorting through hundreds of available brands and styles can be daunting, so talk to your Prosthetist about the best prosthetic socks and liners for you and your unique requirements.