Socket Fit and Alignment: How to Keep the Balance
A well-fitting socket and an optimized prosthetic alignment empowers you to tackle any challenge. Advanced prosthetic technologies have made lives more comfortable and safer, but are still limited when it comes to making an ill-fitting socket fit well or improving poor alignment.
Think of your prosthesis as an entire jigsaw puzzle that requires all puzzle pieces to fit perfectly and to work in unison. It’s an interdependent system that works towards a common goal of negating your “prosthetic factor.” Your prosthetist works hard to make sure your limb and prosthesis “live harmoniously.” Therefore, In this new year, it’s essential that you maintain a prosthetic maintenance schedule with your prosthetist to keep the following in check:
• The relationship between your socket and alignment remain in balance
• Socket adjustments are satisfied before they wreak havoc and create issues
• Any required amputee supplies are dispensed
After receiving your prosthesis and making sure your socket and alignment are fine-tuned, maintain this balance through regular prosthetic visits. Weight gain or loss can affect the delicate balance between your socket and alignment, which can prevent you from enjoying your prosthetic system to the fullest.
To help you further understand how something as natural as weight gain can affect the balance, here's an example. As soon as you start to gain weight, your body adjusts and becomes disproportionate to your prosthesis. Weight gain can indirectly increase the height of your prosthesis, as the volume increase results in your residual limb sitting higher than the usual within the socket. This can result in lower back pain, hip issues, as well as change in how your prosthetic foot responds. Walking around on a tall prosthetic leg does not only throw your biomechanics off, but it also affects the prosthetic alignment in relation to your body. And if you’re an above-the-knee amputee, walking with a tall limb leads to more instability or worse a prosthetic foot whip. The takeaway? Maintain your prosthetic maintenance schedule.
You cannot rely on a great socket fit alone to solve all your prosthetic-related problems. This is where amputee supplies come in handy. Balms or salves can help when scars or skin grafted areas experience friction against the prosthesis. Meanwhile, prosthetic sleeves or liners can make your leg feel more secure and lighter. Change them regularly as needed.
After gaining a little “holiday” weight, it can be difficult for a prosthetist to make a socket larger (the reverse—tightening a socket—is much easier). Your prosthetist can use a slippery brim sheath to help reduce the pinching sensation that occurs along the inner brim area, which can help your skin slide in easier as you walk.
The Bottom Line
Maintain that delicate balance between your prosthetic socket and proper alignment by regularly seeing your prosthetist for a checkup. Another critical element in ensuring that both live harmoniously together is by replacing and adding new amputee supplies. Doing so allows you to use and enjoy your prosthesis to the fullest.