Tuesday, June 14, 2011

When Do You Need a New Socket?

We frequently hear our patients remark about the comfort of their new sockets. Changes to the limb can occur slowly, allowing the amputee to adjust with minimal awareness. In some cases it is only when a new socket is fitted that our patient realizes how uncomfortable the previous prosthetic had become!

Unfortunately, a timeline does not exist for prosthetic sockets. Unlike vehicles which require routine check-ups and maintenance, sockets and many prosthetic components require little upkeep once the device is fitted properly. Many times the amputee is unaware that they require a new socket until a painful development brings them back to our office.

You don't have to wait for the onset of pain to investigate the necessity of a new socket. Here are some helpful guidelines concerning socket fit:

1. If you are consistently depending upon at least 10 ply socks to achieve a comfortable fit, it is recommended that you return to your prosthetist to evaluate whether you require a new socket. For those amputees that utilize a seal-in liner we recommend scheduling an appointment if you are consistently wearing 8 ply.

2. As the limb changes shape or loses volume, the individual may feel as if they are "bottoming out" in the socket. The socket may feel higher around the residual limb or the rim of the socket may be causing small pinch cuts or abrasions. This is an indication that a new socket may be appropriate.

3. Fluctuations in weight often result a tight or loose socket. Generally, a new socket may be necessary for each two pant sizes that are lost or gained.

4. Changes in gait style or in walking speed often indicate socket issues. Limb changes are often naturally accommodated through variations in walking style without being deliberately addressed. If you feel that your walking is "different," it may indicate that a new socket is necessary.

5. Increased phantom limb pain, especially at night, may indicate an ill-fitting prosthetic.

If you have any questions or concerns about the fit of your socket, we encourage you to give us a call. Many times a small change can make a world of difference when it comes to prosthetic fit.

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