There are many factors that can affect volume of a residual limb.

Muscle atrophy, weight changes, diet, medication, and increased or decreased physical activity can all have significant effects. Managing these volume changes is important to ensure a well-fitting socket, which will increase stability and comfort when walking.

  • After amputation surgery, we encourage our patients to wear a shrinker for about 2 weeks prior to casting. This helps to reduce postoperative edema (swelling) in the residual limb and will aid in shaping the limb for comfortable prosthetic fitting. Elevating the limb will also help to reduce swelling.
  • After delivery of the prosthesis, we still want to manage volume as it can change from day to day, from morning to afternoon, and even from hour to hour. Socks are an excellent way to maintain a snug fit in your prosthesis.
  • If you experience significant volume changes from day to day, keep a log of your diet and medications to show to your physician. Eating a salty meal will cause your body to retain water, which could increase volume in your residual limb. Certain medications can cause your body to increase or decrease water retention as well.
  • Dialysis can have a significant affect on residual limb volume. Make sure your prosthetist is aware of when and how often you have dialysis as this can affect fitting of a prosthesis.
  • Increased physical activity will most likely reduce your volume. When you put weight on your prosthesis, there is a pumping action of the muscles that will push the fluid out of your limb. You will most likely need to add socks if you are doing a significant amount of walking or going to the gym.
  • Sitting with your leg hanging off a chair will increase volume. If you are sitting, elevate your limb to prevent fluid collection.
  • Weather can affect volume as well. Heat can cause increased swelling, and high or low-pressure systems accompanying storms can affect your limb as well, affecting volume and sometimes increasing phantom limb type sensations.

If you are concerned about volume fluctuations or feel like adjustments need to be made to your prosthesis, call your prosthetist for an appointment.