We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Prosthetic Leg?

By Jessica Hobby
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A prosthetic leg is a prosthesis, or artificial limb, that is attached where the leg has been amputated due to a trauma or disease. Although such legs may vary greatly, all modern ones have three major components: the pylon, the socket and the suspension system. Additional features are dependent on the type of amputation that has been performed.

Traditionally made of metal rods, the pylon is the skeleton of the prosthetic leg and acts as a support structure. More recently, pylons have been made of carbon and fiber composites that are much lighter. Sometimes the pylon may be covered by foam or plastic, which can be formed and dyed to match the amputee’s skin tone to give a more natural look.

The socket is the part of the prosthetic leg that connects the prosthesis to the stump, or residual limb. A socket transfers forces from the prosthesis to the stump, which requires that the socket is carefully fitted so it doesn’t damage or irritate to the skin. The socket is attached to the limb over a liner and sometimes a prosthetic sock to assist with a comfortable fit.

The suspension system is the mechanism responsible for keeping the prosthesis attached to the body. The type of suspension system is dependent on the type of amputation that was performed. Some suspension mechanisms operate on suction, while other artificial legs are attached by using a harness system. Patients who have undergone a transfemoral amputation, or an amputation above the knee, will need a harness system, whereas patients who have undergone a transtibial amputation, or an amputation below the knee, will possibly be able to use a suspension system that relies on suction.

In addition to the type of suspension system used in a prosthetic leg, whether or not an amputation was transfemoral or transtibial dictates other features. For example, a patient who has undergone a transfemoral amputation will need to have a prosthesis that has an artificial knee. Even though all prosthetic legs have the three basic components and additional features, it is important to remember that each limb is custom made for the comfort and function of the amputee.

After an amputation has been completed and the swelling has gone down, a plaster mold is taken of the stump. This mold is used to make a duplicate stump for the purpose of fitting the prosthetic leg as it is being constructed. After the artificial limb is finished, adjustments are made through trial and error during multiple physical therapy sessions.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon127902 — On Nov 17, 2010

a bilateral amputee complains the socket is too tight toward the bottom of the socket. Several attempts have been made to fit the amputee. what can this feeling of tightness be?

By anon99790 — On Jul 27, 2010

anon81707- relax. I'm a 7 month a.k.a., 60 years of age, successfully using my new leg for the third month. Fitting and building and adjusting aren't much of a problem and you will be making progress quite soon. Best of luck to you! --AJM

By morelock — On May 09, 2010

Best of luck with your surgery. Because of the nature of this website, I am not able to offer advice or opinions on medical things. May I suggest consulting with your physician for answers to these questions. He or she should be able to guide you to support groups or other patients who may be going through some of the same anxieties that you are experiencing.

By anon81707 — On May 03, 2010

i have a right AKA and am getting my socket tomorrow, this being my 1st experience with this. I would like to ask for suggestions or opinions on what the whole procedure feels like. I'm really excited and just having mixed emotions. Any advice?

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.