Original article by M. Jason Highsmith, DPT, CP(c) and Jason T. Kahle, CPO
Translated into plain language by Helen Osborne of Health Literacy Consulting

Cartoon that jokes about about improper sock sizeSocks are simple and low-cost, yet also very helpful ways to protect your skin. For non-amputees, socks serve as barriers between the foot and shoe. They add comfort and help wick (take away) perspiration and odor. For amputees, socks are just as helpful when worn between the residual limb and shoe or prosthesis. Socks help remove oils, odors, and other contaminants as well as reduce pain by filling in spaces where tissue and fluids have shrunk. Here are some facts to know about prosthetic socks.

Types of socks

Prosthetic socks come in many sizes and fibers. They can be made to fit most any limb length, diameter, or shape. Socks come in nylon, cotton, wool, and synthetic blend fibers.

You can buy standard socks as-is or special ones made just for you. Here are some types of special socks:

  • Socks to wear under gel liners. These are thinner than standard prosthetic socks and made with silver fibers which help protect against odor and bacteria.
  • Toeless socks to wear with a suction liner. These help maintain suction with the inner surface of the prosthetic socket. This is helpful when there are changes in the amount of fluid in your residual limb.
  • Half-socks. Amputees with transtibial (below-knee) prostheses often wear half-socks with full-length socks over them. Worn together, these two socks add needed volume at the bottom of the limb while not putting too much pressure at the top.
  • Sock gasket. This type of sock is often worn by amputees with transfemoral (above-knee) prostheses. The sock can be folded over the brim (top edge) of the socket where it comes into contact with the pelvic region. This pads the brim and helps with perspiration.

Taking care of socks

Socks, like most everything else, need routine care. This includes washing and drying to keep socks clean and odor-free. It also includes cutting any frayed threads at the sock edges as well as cleaning off lint. Routine care like this keeps loose threads and lint from getting into pin holes, locks, suction values, and suspension system.

Prosthetists often help amputees with sock problems. You can help by writing down all the ways you try to fix your socks as well as noting fluid changes in your residual limb. This will help your prosthetist solve your sock problems.

Choosing socks

There are many types of socks to choose from. Talk with your prosthetist about how certain socks can help or problems they may cause. Often, you can try sample socks before buying them. Work with your prosthetist to find socks that are right for you. It is worth the effort -- we know that the right socks can be of great help to you, and your residual limb.

About the Authors

M. Jason Highsmith

M. Jason Highsmith is a physical therapist and board-eligible prosthetist. He is an assistant professor in the School of Physical Therapy at the University of South Florida.

Jason T. Kahle

Jason T. Kahle is a certified and licensed prosthetist/orthotist. He is the director of lower-extremity prosthetics at Westcoast Brace & Limb in Tampa, Florida

Translated from Prosthetic Socks - Simple, Relatively Inexpensive and Critically Important

Last updated: 01/01/2017
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