Those who have experienced limb loss have a lot to learn when it comes to living a full, functional life. One of the things that many amputees have to adjust to is sock management – i.e. using socks to control and adjust the fit of their device for maximum comfort and function.
As you’ll see, sock management isn’t always intuitive. But it’s key to being as comfortable as possible with a prosthetic device.
Why Is Sock Management Important?
When people wear below the knee prostheses, they wear socks of different thicknesses, which we call plys. For one recent patient of ours, for example, we gave him 1-ply, 3-ply, and 5-ply socks. A 5-ply sock is five times thicker than a 1-ply sock. So, if you’re wearing five 1-ply socks, it’s the same as wearing one 5-ply sock.
When a patient with a below the knee prosthesis takes the leg off at night, and when they lay in their bed in a horizontal position, their body fluid goes all throughout their body and their legs swell up a little bit. When they put their weight on the prosthesis, they’re pushing body fluid up and out of the limb, which means the residual limb shrinks throughout the day.
How Sock Management Can Be Counter-Intuitive
How we adjust socks to fit our limbs and prostheses isn’t as straightforward as you’d think.
When something feels tighter, we normally think we should remove a layer. If you were wearing two socks in your shoes, for example, and your shoes felt tight, common sense would tell you to take off a layer.
But with limb loss, it’s different. Since that residual limb is smaller during the day, it’s pressing deeper into the socket as pressure is applied to it. That is what makes the socket feel tighter.
So, the solution is to add another layer to provide a buffer, which is done by adding another sock or going up to a higher ply sock.
It’s counter-intuitive, but it’s a very important piece of information for any person with limb loss.
Practice Makes Perfect
Through practice, you’ll learn how to listen to your body and adjust as needed. You’ll become more familiar with the patterns of your body and how your prosthesis fits throughout the day, and you’ll get better at sock management to make sure you’re comfortable all day long.
We recently had a patient named Mr. Nall. Mr. Nall is a double amputee with two below the knee prostheses. One of the things he has learned is how to manage fit through his socks. We gave him 1, 3, and 5-ply socks and taught him how to listen to his body. As a result, he’s walking better and experiencing more comfort, too.
Now, Mr. Nall can go to his beloved Miles College and watch the Golden Bears play while walking up and down the stands in comfort – thanks to sock management.
At BioTech, we help our patients learn sock management as a part of our service to them as valued patients. If you have a question about sock management, or anything to do with getting a prosthetic device, contact us – we’d love to help.