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Caveman2ZA

Stump Shrinkage

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Well this is a problem to me & possibly it may be a problem to others in the amputee community.

What I am looking for is contact with others who firstly have a similar problem & secondly (hopefully) folks who may just have found a solution to this problem, or suggestions that we could try.

The nub of the problem is how to keep ones weight down ( or loose a few inches round the waist) BUT not loose any bulk round your stump, in fact I would like to plump my stump up a tad, otherwise my --.ing arm falls off when I try to carry moderated weight bag out of the shop, or tool bag back to the garage.

I know there is stuff on the market to "firm up your skin", but when I read the ingredient list, it is not in line with what I read about being good for the skin etc. What we appear to need is stuff to penetrate the skin & add to the bulk underneath the skin, if I am logical I would say that increasing muscle mass is the under-skin way to bulk up, BUT while a stump has a few muscles, at least I find its mighty difficult to remember to exercise them, so the jolly muscles shrink. - all tumbles in the wrong direction. Does anyone have some suggestions??

I am starting to try & exercise the 2 pathetic muscles(they were v strong 10 years ago prior to accident) in my right upper arm stump, the ends of the muscles - biceps & triceps are tied together at the base of my humerus (nob of which was removed so as to fit into a socket). but its only flexing them as they cannot drive anything.

As the "skin firming lotions" appear to be too synthetically geared, I am "having a go" at making a formulation of ingredients I have at hand to see what happens.

I can only assume folks with leg stumps have similar problems.

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Caveman, you're right in assuming that leg amps have the same problem! Stumps, in general, tend to shrink no matter what you do to them, until such time as they "stop." You can do some level of excercise to STRENGTHEN the stump, but it will probably still be a "thin-but-oddly-strong" part of your body.

The only solution I found during my own shrinking days was continuing to pad my socket and then have it replaced every few months. Eventually the shrinking slowed down and I've been able to keep my sockets for a couple of years at a time.

The "skin firming potions," as you've probably figured out, contain ingredients that cause your skin to swell slightly and are used to make cosmetic wrinkles less noticeable. They do nothing to the muscle tissue. My guess would be that a healthy diet and a whole lott'a exercise would be the closest you could come to holding on to any muscular "bulk."

One thing to note is that an ill-fitting prosthesis can feel very, very heavy all on its own, and it can shift around enough to cause problems up to simply falling off. Snugging up the socket helps a lot and can make it easier to to devote whatever muscle you have into actually lifting things and doing tasks. It's my understanding, based on absolutely NO personal experience at all, that arm amps have substantially more problems with the weight of their prostheses than we leg folks do...and you're also more rare than the leg folks, so developments in prosthetic arms tend to some a little more slowly.

All the best to you in trying to sort this problem out...if you come up with a workable solution, please let us know...I'm sure our arm folks would be very interested! (And of you're an arm amp who's managing to stay "bulked up," please check in here and let us know how you're doing it!)

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Speaking as a leg amp., of over forty years, yes I have had problems with shrinkage, especially in one of my stumps ....and do see many amps having similar problems, and stumps do always shrink somewhat due to muscles not being used ... however, I do wonder if the type of below knee prostheses most of us b/k amps tend to use nowadays are contributing more to the problems we are having with shrinkage. In my time as an amp I have worn various types of prostheses, I started off more on a framework with rocker feet, then progressed on to metal legs with a thigh leather corset, and then on to metal PTB's (patella tendon bearing) and I wore this type on one side for about fifteen or so years until this new modular type took over, which tend to fit a lot tighter and bear weight all around, rather than just under the knee. It was after I started wearing this type of prosthesis that I noticed my stump shrinking more. On the other side I still wore, what they called a no.8 type with thigh corset and metal leg with a leather socket, where my stump was a lot looser and although my thigh muscles atrophied my stump didn't shrink down as much as the other side. I now wear a modular b/k prosthesis, with liner on that side and it is now a better shape than the other side (which is longer), however I had a revision and reconstruction on that side a few years back which might have something to do with it and because of grafting still cannot wear a tight socket on that side.

I tend to agree with what Cheryl has said about the prosthesis needing to fit properly, if its too big it can as Cheryl says, feel very heavy, likewise if its too tight in certain parts and too big in others, it can quite dramatically change shape and swell to fit the spaces.

Over the years I have spoken to many prosthetists and most have said that once the stump gets to a certain size it does not really change much, and tend to agree, I went through three pregnancies, and (apart from the middle one when I had pre-eclampsia), I was able to wear and walk on my prostheses all the way through with no change in sockets ... however this was years ago on the old type metal legs and I am not sure I'd get away with that with the type of prostheses I wear today as they are much tighter. Like Cheryl says, if they are too big they feel heavy and can cause other problems, if they are too tight in one spot and too big in another spot they can actually make the stump swell. I find my stumps are more likely to change shape when I have been fitted with a new socket which is a different shape, be it tighter or looser, my stump shape will adapt to the shape quite quickly, sometimes it will be assumed that I have lost body weight, but I actually haven't, it is just a tighter socket.

Am not too sure about skin firming potions Caveman, I am a bit wary of putting any products on my legs that I am not familiar with .... the other thing of course is that leg amputees might not want to hold on to too much muscular bulk as this is obviously going to make the sockets bigger and possibly cause problems with clothing etc., I know most are quite relieved after the initial shrinkage because it allows people to wear ordinary trousers, jeans etc.

However, am only speaking from the experience as a leg amp, and not an arm amp where its a different set up.

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Hello, I'm Nicole and I have been an amputee since 2009. I was wondering how to shrink my stump. I have gained twenty pounds since I received my last prosthetic a few months ago. With my insurance they only pay for one once every 3 years. It is hard for me not to wear my prosthetic being a stay at home mom of two. Any suggestions? 

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Hi, The only suggestion I have is going on a Banting diet- high fat zero carbs- no sugar, rice ,potatoes, pasta flour based goods , starch and glucose products. High level of vegetables  with a high fiber content, cutting down on meat portion sizes. It's excess glucose that your body get in that gets stored as fat under the skin. A high fat low carbs diet allows your body to control glucose making in your liver, so diet not recommended if liver is compromised. This diet will strip your fat in no time.

 

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