I cannot over emphasise the importance of having a comfortable socket, it enables me to reach my full potential without feeling frustrated, irritable and uncomfortable. Socket comfort is key for the maintenance of an active and healthy lifestyle, an ill-fitting socket can lead to becoming less motivated or even unable to get active, to socialise, exercise and enjoy myself. Even small socket irritations can build exponentially with increased activity and if left unchanged cause major issues. From personal experience, I have found that by speaking to your prosthetist and getting the issue sorted early could save you a lot of grief.
It’s the most frustrating thing when you aren’t able to use your prosthesis! The times in which I have experienced discomfort from an ill fitting socket, have meant being unable to, or just really not wanting to get out and about, either to meet friends or for work. This had a strong impact on my mood; I felt irritated and grumpy and caused me to limp. Limping is especially problematic, not only does it make me feel very self-conscious, but also causes further knock on effects to the rest of my body. It leads to me become more reliant on my intact right side, causing an altered gait and posture as well as increased load through my right side, throwing my whole body out of balance. It more often that not causes me hip and back pain, I tend to compensate by using my hip to swing my leg around rather than bend my knee, which is not a very natural movement.
Had I not got my socket sorted this may have, over an extended period of time, lead to more serious and on-going problems such as osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and increase the chances of needing a hip and knee replacement surgery as well as back pain. Which obviously are all thing I would rather avoid.
One of the best things that has improved the comfort off my socket was when I got flexible inner liner, I found that it moulded itself to my shape and became more comfortable the more I wore it. Prior to this I used to find, particularly when cycling or sitting for too long, that the back of the socket would dig in and rub the tendons behind my knee. Since having a flexible liner I have been able to lower the back of my socket behind the knee, this has lead to the socket no longer causing any discomfort or rubbing behind my knee! It’s great and much nicer when I’m cycling or sitting for extended periods, such as on public transport or in the car. One further benefit is that it has allowed me to gain a greater range of knee movement into flexion.
I think this really goes to show how important having a comfortable socket is, it has allowed me to get back to the activities I enjoy, whether that be running, cycling or even just normal day to day activities. It has also helped to improve my mood and social life. When my socket is fitting perfectly I often take it for granted, it just makes everything so much easier and I often forget that I am even wearing a prosthetic at all, I don’t feel limited and am able to do everything that I wish.
For me having a comfortable prosthesis is a necessity, keeping me mobile and in control. My advise if you are having problems with the comfort of your socket would be to speak to your Prosthetist as soon as possible and get it sorted.