You’ve recently injured your foot or leg. You were probably given a pair of crutches by a doctor or friend with little or no explanation on how to fit or use them. Now, you have been left with a sore back, tired arms, and the struggle of walking. Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do about it, as the doctor tells you that you need to remain in a non-weight bearing state while you heal. It might be a real bummer to spend your time not being able to walk normally, but you have to in order to keep your recovery on track.
Crutches are a very useful piece of equipment for many lower limb injuries, however, this piece of equipment can prove to be quite complicated for those who have never used or been taught to use crutches before. According to statistics, 6.5 million people use a cane, a walker, or crutches to assist with their mobility. Crutches can be used for a number of injuries, not just fractures.
As immobilization limits mobility in the injured area it helps to prevent further damage to the bones or tissue. When using crutches, patients should use techniques directed by medical professionals or physical therapists to walk or manage day-to-day activities. While there are multiple different types of crutches, many walk around with crutches that are too short or too tall. Incorrect use of crutches, will result in injury.
Why is it important to adjust your crutches?
- A properly fitted crutch can decrease pain in the underarms, wrists and hands.
- It avoids putting pressure on the nerves that can cause numbness and tingling.
- It helps reduce back and neck pain from poor posture from standing for long periods of time.
- Fitting crutches correctly can minimize fatigue of your non-injured leg.
- Avoids potential accidents or falls.
Here’s your simple guide to properly fitting crutches:
1. Adjust the height of the crutch: Adjusting the height usually involves pushing in a small button and adjusting its position within the base of the crutch. Many crutches have heights labeled on them, but it is best to stand up tall with the crutches under your arms. At the correct height, you should be able to place four fingers between your armpit and the top of the crutch. If the crutches are too high it can cause irritation to the muscles, nerves and tissues in the shoulder and armpit area. If they are too short you may be unstable and risk falling over.
2. Adjust the height of the grip: Typically, there is a small bolt and screw to remove and adjust the handle grip. To find the correct height for the handle stand up tall with the crutch next to you. The handle of the crutch should be in the position closest to the bony part of your wrist. If the handles are too high or too low, it will likely to cause upper back, shoulder and neck discomfort.
If you want more information on how to properly use crutches, call our medical professionals at Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland at (410) 644-1880 to request an appointment.