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Help Me Choose: Prosthetic Socks

Posted by Bryan Potok, CPO on

Prosthetic socks are mission critical supplies. They can solve many common prosthetic issues, including excessive sweating, volume changes, and socket odors. Realizing one type of prosthetic sock doesn't work for everyone and can not solve all common prosthetic issues, sock brands have been expanding their sock offerings. 

Prosthetic socks are available in different materials such as coolmax or x-static.

As with athletic specific clothing, there are different types of amputee socks designed for optimum performance under specific conditions, and the sock type you choose will largely be determined by how you plan on using them and what performance priorities you value. 

As an example, a thick 5-Ply, X-Wool Knit-Rite sock with X-Static is ideal when odor management and cushion are priority and perspiration is secondary. If sweating is a important, it's not recommended using this same X-Wool prosthetic sock underneath a gel liner to help with odors and sweating, as this will surely cause your suspension to fail.  In this example, the ideal prosthetic sock would be the Liner-Liner by Knit-Rite with X-Static. 

During your search for prosthetic socks, you may find using a mixture of specialized socks works best for you. Read this guide to learn which sock attributes to consider when building your ideal sock supply. 

Choosing the Material

One primary consideration when choosing a prosthetic sock for solving a specific issue is the material. Prosthetic socks can be knitted with natural materials, such as wool or cotton, or man-made fabrics, such as Lycra, nylon, or even a blend of multiple fibers.

Many prosthetic wearers generally turn to synthetic fibers, as they are designed to offer excellent breathability, insulation, and moisture-wicking properties. When searching for a prosthetic sock to accommodate a unique size or shape residual limb, socks with a higher content of Lycra will fit better. A higher Lycra content provides greater shape retention and shape recovery. 

Excessive sweating is a serious issue for most prosthetic wearers and considering prosthetic socks that contains Coolmax fibers will help with managing excessive sweat. Coolmax is designed to pull moisture away from your skin through knitted channels, keeping you drier and cooler. 

If your lifestyle is generally active, prosthetic socks knitted with wool can be an excellent choice, as this fiber is naturally breathable and incorporates moisture-wicking properties. Wool is also resistant to odor and bacteria buildup. 

As you browse through our prosthetic sock collection, you’ll find information about the sock's material content on each product page.  

Choosing Based on Function

Cycling and hiking require different sock types and the same is true for prosthetic users. Different objectives and activities necessitate different sock types. Starting with functional needs versus materials is a great way to decide on an ideal prosthetic sock.  

Gel Impregnated Socks

Skin irritation related to friction is an all to common occurence for prosthetic wearers. Whether your residual limb contains sharp boney prominences or an irregular shape prone to skin irritation, a gel sock can offer protection and cushion. Additionaly, most gel formulations can also release skin conditioning vitamins and mineral oil to improve the resilience of your skin. 

Introducing gel socks into your sock supply is a great way to benefit from using both knitted and gel socks. Applying gel socks against your skin or over a prosthetic liner provides extra protection against shear stress, especially important if your socket becomes loose. A loose socket can create friction and excessive perspiration.  

Thermal Qualities

Heat retention is a constant issue inside a socket and one that is harder to fight if you wear a prosthetic liner. Regulating temperature, even a degree or two, can make a marked difference. Coolmax technology is able to transport moisture away from your residual limb to keep you cool and dry on hot days, and its fiber structure provides insulation on colder days. 

Moisture Management

All synthetic and some natural fibers (i.e., Merino wool) are valued for their moisture-wicking properties or their ability to draw moisture away from the skin. When reading each products material content, look for socks knitted with Coolmax and Polyester. Coolmax in combination with a special knitting process creates channels that allow moisture to travel away from your limb to the top of the sock. Special "wicking" polyester fibers draws moisture away from your skin in an effort to keep you drier. This high-tech polyester, unlike cotton, absorbs very little water. Cotton socks will absorb 7% of its weight in water, whereas wicking polyester only 0.4%. If your primary concern is to minimize issues associated with excessive sweating, then stick to moisture-wicking materials.

Odor Management

To manage odors, wear a prosthetic sock that contains X-Static, an anti-microbial fiber technology designed to fight odor causing bacteria using silver yarn. Sock manufacturers, from Knit-Rite to Comfort to Royal Knit offer prosthetic socks that incorporate X-Static to fight smelly socks. X-Static is used in a lot of athletic and hunting gear to mask odors. The main difference between prosthetic socks and athletic gear is prosthetic socks use a significantly higher percentage of X-Static than hunting gear. The reason is related to excessive heat and moisture trapped inside a socket creating an environment for bacteria to thrive, hence more silver is required; and part of the reason why these specialized socks cost more than foot socks. 

For more information about prosthetic issues and which material helps solve or mitigate them, read our Quick Material Guide below.

Quick Material Guide

 

Issue

Material

Reason

Perspiration

Wool

Synthetic Fibers

Polyester Blends

 

Wool and polyester blends dissipate perspiration over a greater surface area and wick moisture away from your limb, providing a less damp sock. Polyester blends do not retain sweat.

 

  

Sensitive Skin

Gel

Synthetic Fiber (with silver)

 

Gel dissipates pressure in sore areas.

Synthetic socks with silver provide anti-microbial protection from odor causing bacteria and infection.

Reduces shear forces.

Volume Fluctuation

 

Uniquely shaped residual limbs

Synthetic Fibers with Lycra

Wool with Lycra

Lycra is an elastic type of fiber that stretches and contracts with volume fluctuation.

Other synthetic fibers can have elastic properties as well.

Lycra conforms to irregular limb shapes, providing a better fit.

Odor control

Silver

Socks containing X-Static

 

Wool, synthetic fibers, and anti-microbial infused gel have properties to reduce odor build-up. (Note: Make sure socks are cleaned regularly.)

 

Socks with Locking Liners

Choose a sock with pre-seamed hole-in-toe

 

 

Cutting holes in any sock material can cause threads to get stuck in the locking mechanism.

Make sure your prosthetic sock is not in the way of your pin (if the sock is caught on the pin and inserted into the lock you may have trouble removing your prosthesis).

Closed abrasions/closed sores

Gel

If you have high pressure areas within your socket, gel socks are best.

Gel dissipates high pressure areas by providing additional cushioning and shock absorption.

Pressure at the knee joint from multiple socks

Half socks

Half socks are great if you’re sinking too far into the socket.

Half socks replace volume along the bottom end of your limb while leaving room at the top for knee joint mobility. Great for new amputees, where the bottom of their residual limb shrinks faster than the top.


Specialized Socks

Aside from those discussed above, sock manufacturers also knit prosthetic socks for underneath a prosthetic liner. These liner socks are designed to help neutralize odor-causing bacteria; most will also wick sweat away from your residual limb. 

Many people will keep a bunch of these specialized under liner socks in their sock supply so they can easily exchange a wet sock with a dry one. Furthermore, as these socks are meant for use underneath a prosthetic liner, they can vastly improve your limb hygiene. 

While it can be tempting to layer these specialized socks with your other prosthetic socks, we recommend sticking to only one sock underneath your liner, so as not to disrupt the suspension of your prosthesis. The remaining socks that comprise your sock routine should be worn over your liner to help manage socket volume. 

If you wear a foam-type liner than we suggest applying an under-liner sock first and then apply your remaining multi-ply 3 and 5 ply socks.

Lastly, when choosing prosthetic socks, remember that while most manufacturers follow the industry standard for sizing, not all brands have similar shapes and sizes. Each size is programmed into a knitting machine which doesn’t produce the exact same exact shape between different sock brands. This is why sizing and fit can differ from one brand to the next. Lastly, if you are experiencing “tent” formation or puckering along the toe area of your sock, it means you need a sock with either more Lycra content or possibly a different brand of prosthetic sock that offers a better toe shape. 

If you have any questions or concerns about prosthetic socks, please don’t hesitate to contact the Amputee Store Customer Success Team. But if you already have a favorite prosthetic sock, please share the style and brand by commenting below.

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<a href="https://amputeestore.com/blogs/amputee-store-blog/help-me-choose-prosthetic-socks">Help Me Choose: Prosthetic Socks</a>

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1 comment


  • I am in need of socks. Must have hole on bottom.

    Richard Zschunke on

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