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June 10, 2022
Eddie Zepeda

Prosthetic Socket: a Full Explanation


Whether you’re new to the world of prosthetics or you’re hoping to learn more information about a prosthetic socket, you’ve come to the right place! Our team at PrimeCare Orthotics & Prosthetics has been helping patients since 2009. In this blog post, we’ll explore what a prosthetic socket is, how to care for them, how much they cost, and so much more.

What Is a Prosthetic Socket?

Prosthetic sockets are devices that join your residual limb (also referred to as a stump) to the prosthesis. Each prosthetic socket is unique as it is made for the individual who will be wearing it. As you can imagine, one of the most important parts of a prosthetic socket is ensuring that it fits comfortably so that it helps amputees and allows them to live a functional and full life.

What Are Prosthetic Sockets Made Of?

Today’s prosthetic sockets are made from modern plastic and silicone materials as they offer a good mixture of comfort and functionality for the patient. It’s also common to see materials such as aluminum, stainless steel, carbon, and titanium in prosthetic connective componentry. The use of these materials is relatively new as more research and technology help to modernize and improve the prosthetic socket design. Some of the first transfemoral sockets were made from wood and leather.

How Do Prosthetic Sockets Work?

During the fitting process, you’ll work directly with a prosthetist to create a check (test) socket. This is a clear socket that helps the prosthetist understand if there are any areas that cause too much pressure or redness. If you try your check socket and you are having issues with its comfortability or wearability, it can easily be modified to better suit the shape of your limb. It’s important that the prosthetic socket doesn’t only fit properly but it also must have adequate load transmission to ensure stability and control for the patient.

Common Problems with Prosthetic Sockets

prosthetic socket for leg why that is used

In the early stages of wearing a prosthetic socket, it will likely feel strange and uncomfortable while you get used to it. Consider the fact that a movable body part is now housed in a hard shell; be patient with yourself as you adjust. There will be a learning curve as you get used to feeling pressure on a different part of your body when you walk, potentially causing some discomfort and skin irritation. Other common issues associated with prosthetic sockets include general fatigue, reduced mobility, poor balance, instability, a fear of falling, and back pain. If you are experiencing persisting issues, please let our team know, we are happy to help!

How Long Does a Prosthetic Socket Last?

How long your prosthetic socket will last depends on your activity level and how well you care for it. The more active you are, the faster you’ll need to get your prosthetic socket replaced. Generally speaking, these sockets are designed to last an average of 2-4 years. In many cases, it is the socket that wears out the fastest and this component can be replaced instead of starting the process from scratch. Keep in mind that you’ll also be replacing liners or socks regularly for sanitation and comfort purposes.

Everyday Questions about Sockets

Our team is always happy to answer any questions you have about prosthetic sockets or orthotics in general. Here are some frequently asked questions to help you become more familiar with prosthetic sockets.

What Prosthetic Socket Design Is Most Used?

While there are different options when it comes to prosthetic socket designs, it’s common to use the Socket PTB SC (Patellar Tendon Bearing Supracondylar). With this type of design, the weight-bearing takes place at the patellar tendon which is located underneath the patella. This is often used across the world as the most basic design for fitting medium and long stumps. One upside to this type of socket is that the design doesn’t result in blood circulation problems or atrophy.

How to Keep a Prosthetic Socket Warm in the Winter

what prosthetic socket design is most used

Cold temperatures, snow, and ice can make it challenging for amputees to get around. If you’re going to be heading outside in cold weather, make sure to always wear your prosthesis. If you leave it at home, it could result in soreness, pain, and irritation that could have otherwise been avoided. You can also wear wool or fleece, bundle up in multiple layers, and always wear the right footwear to reduce your risk of injury. We recommend investing in some sort of a cane, walker, or crutches if you need assistance navigating slippery surfaces in the winter.

How to Make a Prosthetic Socket Fit Tighter

Many patients realize that they need a tighter fit. If you wear a prosthetic liner, consider opting for a thicker gel liner to help the prosthetic fit tighter. This also adds a comfortable layer of cushioning. Be careful not to opt for a liner that’s too thick, however, as some patients report that upgrading to a thicker liner makes them feel as though they’re walking in a bowl of jello. Another option for a tighter fit is to use prosthetic socks to add extra padding.

How Much Does It Cost?

You’re likely wondering how much a prosthetic leg socket costs. It’s difficult to give an overarching answer to this question as insurance always comes into play when it comes to prosthetic sockets. Generally speaking, prosthetic sockets range in price from $3,000 to $5,000, but they can cost as much as $20,000 if the fitting process is more involved.

Quality Care with PrimeCare Orthotics & Prosthetics

If you have additional questions about prosthetic sockets or if you’re ready to take the next step in regaining your mobility, our team is here for you. PrimeCare Orthotics & Prosthetics passionate about building mobility and confidence in our patients and have helped 30,000+ patients achieve exactly that! Contact us today to learn more about how we can serve you.

Request an Evaluation

If you have questions or you are ready to talk about prosthetic options, feel free to schedule a consultation at our clinic.

A grandfather with a prosthesis walks with his grandchildren.