Most amputees wear one or more stump socks which are manufactured in different sizes to fit various people with varied limb lengths and circumferences. The wearer can adjust the fit by adding one or more socks when the socket feels loose or remove when the residual limb is edematous. Otherwise, the socket will be tight, making the amputee uncomfortable. Besides, this may lead to other prosthetic complications.
Amputees are provided with stump socks to help them manage changes in the volume of the residual limb. These changes are likely to occur each day morning to evening and over weeks and months after the amputation. As the residual limb shrinks, there is need to add volume loss socks over the liner so as to re-establish a snug socket fit. This will significantly help avoid any form of injury to the residual limb.
Stump socks help remove odors, oils, and other contaminants. They also contribute to reducing pain by filling in spaces (volume) where the amputation has shrunk. Stump socks come in two basic varieties: above the knee stump socks (AK) and below the knee stump socks (BK).
Types of stump socks
Cotton Stump Socks
To provide total comfort, cotton socks meet the exact requirements of the user. Since they are made from pure cotton fiber, cotton stump socks are compatible with the human skin. They have variable expansion and contours to fit the stump perfectly. Also, they provide sufficient cushioning of the stump and keep the skin dry and healthy as well. It is important to note that they cover a broad range of AK and BK applications.
Terry Toweling Socks
They have a moderately thick pile in them. Their elasticity allows for full stretch. The synthetic fiber lining (cushion) makes them comfortable to the PTB (Patellar Tendon Bearing) stump wearers.
Nylon Stump Socks
Since they are extremely thin, many PTB limb wearers find them very comfortable to use next to the skin. They are however worn on top of the soft form. This allows easy access to the socket when removing the artificial limb.
Wool Stump Socks
Made from wool, both AK stump socks, and BK stump socks offer excellent wicking properties. They are the thickest of all stump socks.
Easy Care Stump Socks
Easy care socks have an unusual combination of synthetic yarn and virgin wool, a unique quality that enables the user to machine-wash and dry them. Fleecing goes a long way into ensuring that the easy care socks are soft and comfortable.
There are varieties of easy care stump socks that come in a full range of sizes. Comfort is the most important aspect to most amputees, and easy care socks offer just that. Thanks to the desirable properties of wool, easy care socks can overcome loss of shape and shrinkage.
To ensure you get the right sock width, divide the top and bottom circumferences in half. Subtract an inch from the final top width. For sock length, an extra 1" to 2" is advisable.
Half-socks. Amputees with transtibial (Below-Knee) prostheses are advised to wear half-socks with full-length socks over them. When these two are worn together, they add the much-needed volume at the bottom of the limb while averting the possibility of putting too much pressure at the top.
Pointers to greater comfort and better stump sock wear
Body weight and shrinkage: If an amputee adds weight, there are chances of sinking deeper into the socket. This will cause intolerable pressure at the medial wall of the socket. Likewise, weight loss is likely to result into rising a little out of the socket. When an amputee experiences a fluctuation in weight, it is advisable to change the number or weight of stump socks. To adequately accommodate shrinkage, start with the 3 ply sock and change to 5 ply later on.
Size: Too small stump socks will significantly contribute to stump sock damage and cause discomfort to the wearer. There are appropriate size ranges to cater for all PTB wearers. The right size will ensure the stump tissue is contained within the socket brim.
Supply: A PTB limb wear should always maintain an abundant supply of stump socks. This means that the amputee must wear a fresh sock every day. After washing the socks, they should be stored for some days to allow for elasticity and resiliency to return to the wool fibers. The stump socks' durability depends on how well they are taken care of by the users.
Weight of the stump sock: Consider the weight of the stump sock and determine if a change is necessary. For you to maintain a comfortable fit, it is mandatory to accommodate for volume changes by regulating the thickness of the prosthetic socks. You can do this by changing to a thicker sock, for example, from a 3-ply to a 5-ply, or by adding another 1- or 2-ply sock over the existing one. This must be done with caution to ensure it is not overdone. Using too many socks will lead to discomfort and skin breakdown since the socket will not fit properly.
Stump socks affords residual limb enhanced comfort and some cushioning. Stump socks also help to absorb perspiration, which may otherwise make your stump uncomfortable.
Caring for AK and BK stump socks
Avoid creasing your stump socks. Creases will agitate your stump.
Wear a clean sock daily.
Avoid pulling the socks too tightly. This will cause pressure on your stump and distort the socks' shape as well.
Do not mend or stitch your socks. Darning will cause sourness of your stump. Throw away uncomfortable, hard, torn, thin socks.
To make your stump socks last longer in good condition, follow the washing instructions. Do not assume all socks are machine washable.
When hand washing, use tepid water and soap. Rinse thoroughly and dry flat. Avoid wringing them.
Take caution when washing terry toweling socks. Machine-wash them at 40 degrees Celsius. To retain their shape, spin dry and dry them on a flat surface.
Avoid using fabric conditioners on AK and BK stump socks as they may cause irritation to your skin.
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