View Full Version : how do u use a cane?

11-19-2006, 01:45 PM
i know enough to use the cane on the side opposite the injury (thanks jose!) but i can't figure out how to judge the height of the cane.

my kids got me a cane as a joke for my 60th b'day but now that i'm having so much trouble with my right foot, i want to use it when i really need it......the problem is that the cane is HUGE.....it would probably be just the right height for mark? sybil? tall one? short one? .......but at 5'3" i could almost tuck it under my chin....so how do i figure out how much to saw off?

anyone have any ideas?.....thx for any help anyone can offer.

Farm Wife
11-19-2006, 03:12 PM
elbow should be slightly bent. hold arm so that elbow is straight from shoulder to hip, then bring hand forward so that your point of contact with the head of cane is just ahead of your leg that should be the correct angle.

hope that helps

hugs and prayers

bring on the bubblewrap

emilys gramma
11-19-2006, 03:35 PM
.........my right foot is the bad side, and i use the cane (when needed ) on that side.......i need the extra support and strength there...............i can understand if it is someone with a bad arm, naturally they can't use the cane to support themselves, duh, if it is your arm why need the cane?????////// duh??????????///////man i think i am stuck on stoopid today...too many things on my mind i guess.........
i sent you an email, but i decided to post it here too.................take care liz..........................
oh and by the way..........HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY

Farm Wife
11-19-2006, 03:43 PM
the only problem with using the cane on the side you have trouble on is that when you take a step forward your weight is all on the injured side. by using the cane on the opposite side you have 2 points of contact with the ground supporting your weight more evenly and allowing you to step rather than hop.

hugs and prayers

bring on the bubblewrap

before you cut !!! see if your p.t dept at your local hosp will measure just for you so it's correct. you sure don't want my bad advice to ruin your good cane :)

emilys gramma
11-19-2006, 04:11 PM
hi farm wife...hope you are doing a bit better now.......

no wonder i am totally screwed up...lafff
when i take a step with my right foot, i use the cane too,on the right side with the foot and the cane for support......then i use my left leg (good leg) then the right foot with the cane for support on the right side as i continue walking.................so i am really off now huh???

Farm Wife
11-19-2006, 04:21 PM
i am still pretty miserable, thank you for asking. but a person has to cope you know?

but the good news is, i finally had dsl installed. it seems to be easier to "compute" because i don't have to spend so much time waiting for everything to download, and i don't have to sit here so long.

hope you and yours are feeling beetter. miss chatting with you.

hugs and prayers

emilys gramma
11-19-2006, 04:30 PM
im me.........

how is yard ornament doing??//

11-19-2006, 06:40 PM
The top of my cane is right at the crease in my hip.

"They" told me and taught me to use the cane on the right (the good side).

I just couldn't though because, at that time, my hands hurt so much from the neuropathy -- I couldn't stand the pressure on my hand.

I use the cane on the "bad" side.

I always figure the cane is like a third leg -->> cane/left_leg/right_leg. I always have the support of the right leg and the cane. I guess someone who considers herself a talking moose can be just as weird as she wants to be :p


11-19-2006, 08:25 PM
Hi Liz,

Walking stick time, huh? Oh well, these things can transform our lives. I always need pictures to explain anything like this to me.
Here are a couple of picture sites (for people 170 yo, don't let that bother u!!):
and here's a blog discussion of House (M.D.) and the fact that he uses it on the wrong side..

all the best, don't go tripping up now!

11-19-2006, 09:22 PM
thx everyone for the info.....i see the doc on tuesday and i think i'll ask about a phys therapy session to make sure i'm not doing something wrond with the cane and making my arm worse.....it's only going to be for occasional use, but i still want to make sure i don't cause myself additional problems.

i feel a bit silly that i didn't think to google this topic (who knew?)......but on rsd questions, this group has always been first on my resource list!

thx all....i appreciate the input.

joan....good to see u posting.....hooray for DSL!!!


emilys gramma
11-19-2006, 09:33 PM
i too was told by my physical therapist long ago to use the cane on my bad side.....i am ambidextous, but i really think i will have a hard time using my left hand for the cane.................it will take some getting used too, that is for sure.........good thing i don't need it too often..................
farm wife, sorry i missed you on the im........i never even heard the 'ding'.........

11-20-2006, 01:05 AM
One reason for using the cane on the opposite side from the "problem" is to help try to keep your gait steadier and more even. Take it from someone who knows, if you go lurching around with the cane on the bad side, it causes you to lean toward that side....and throws your gait all out of whack, which in turn throws your back all out of whack....which causes all kinds of problems.

Also, if you are having to use something to help you get around on a more than occasional basis, or you find that using the cane start causing you to have more (or even new, if you haven't had any before...) Hand/wrist/arm pain, or you already have pre-existing hand/wrist problems, you might consider talking with your doc and/or your PT folks about using a fore arm crutch instead. The reason for that, is because of how it distributes the pressure, your weight, and everything all along your forearm instead of focusing it all right there on your poor wrist, which wasn't really ever intended to carry such a burden.

Before I ever had any RSD problems in my upper parts, and before I got to the PT people that actually knew what they were doing and helped me the very most (to save all kinds of my body parts from going to Hell in a hand basket, which is where they were heading when I staggered/stumbled/hobbled through their doors), I was using my cane on my RSD side, lurching around like a drunken Frankenstein, causing more and worse back problems then I already had, AND I was having problems with my right wrist and hand (the one I was using the cane with). My fingers were going "dead", my wrist was hurting and feeling like it had gravel in it or something, and I had swelling (NOT like RSD swelling...but swelling because it was hurt, and that would go away if I could stop using the cane for a while...like over night. Swelling would be gone, or very much down, by morning, without me using any Ice). The PT folks explained that this was because I was damaging my wrist from over use, and use in ways that it was never meant to be used, and that the wrist is actually a very fragile structure. LOL..I kinda got a "Brief Anatomy Lesson and Exploration of the Human Wrist", complete with colored laminated and labeled drawings, and a skeleton (not really...it was plastic...I hope. LOL) arm/wrist/hand segment to show me how it all went together, and what areas I was putting pressure on, and how, and what it was doing to them.

THEN they went on to the Spine, and what I was doing to that, by lurching around with my horrible gait patterns. I still have a pretty awful gait, since I walk on the outside of my right foot, but I am not leaning all over to the right to walk while leaning on a walking aide device thing. Not after they showed me what that was doing to my back....complete with yet another set of colored laminated and labeled drawings, and another piece of skeleton (again, not real...I hope) to show me all of the stress and whatnot I was putting on the different parts of my spine. Not just the lumbar...but the thoracic and even cervical. Tell you what....they made a true believer out of me.

Also, because I went in in such bad shape....and I had problems in so many areas....even around my whole S part of my spine (Can't spell it, not even going to try at this late time of night. The part that is lower than the Lumbar, that is supposed to be all fused together, and that leads down to your tail bone....Sacosomethingoranother part.), that I even had to get injections around there to try to help with some unrelated to RSD pain.....Pain that I don't really have bother me much now. Not like it was. Don't get me wrong...my back is a mess.....and it always will be, and it will probably only get worse as I get older (nice thought, when you are 37); but, I know for a fact that I would not be in the shape that I am in now, RSD in lower back and all, if it weren't for those PT folks educating me on what to do to keep my back from getting worse faster, and how to help it instead of hinder it. I also probably would have wound up with RSD in my hand way before I did....and I probably would have wound up with it worse, since I would have been under the care of my old pain doc, and I would have kept doing the things to keep aggravating it (ie - using the cane and causing the hurt).

Summary Time (for those that Skip and Scan ;) ...LOL):

So, basically, this is what I have learned, lol: Canes are good for occasional use, or short term use. Fore arm crutches are needed for long term use, because they distribute the stress, strain, and pressure evenly along your arm instead of focusing it all on one small focal point in your wrist, which will cause many problems, pain, and could cause lots of damamge. Anything that you only need one of to help you walk should be used on the opposite side of the body from the problem/injury to help keep you stable, to help you maintain a more normal gait pattern, and to help out your poor back. Exceptions to all of this are if you can not use your opposite side's arm for some reason, like paralyzation, extreme weakness or something of that sort that maximizes the danger of falling.

Disclaimer time. ;) LOL:
Like everything else on here, you should ALWAYS go and talk to your Doc and PT folks and clear with them what they think is best for you to do, since they know your case and history best, and know what is best for you do to, and all of the reasons why that is so.

Ok. That is it. Hope I haven't muddied the waters more than they already were?:o

Oh...Liz? You might consider getting an aluminum cane that is more easily adjustable? Even with mine (and yes...I do have two canes that I do use, along with my fore arm crutch(es)...different things for different situations), it took a few tries to get the right measurement? The PT folks helped me out with my first one (a cane)...and even they had to adjust it a few times to get it right. LOLOL...I am getting pictures of this poor wooden cane, a hack saw ( :eek: ) ...and you saying "Shoot....Bill? I think that was a little TOO much that time.....Where's the friggin' Super Glue? Why can't you put anything back where you get it from? :mad: Sheesh....." :rolleyes: ROFLMAO!! Sorry....but...that is what I am getting....:D

I think that it is time for me to get to bed. I don't want to get into a whole bunch of trouble. :rolleyes: LOL. Love ya, Sweetie.:)


11-20-2006, 04:15 AM
If all else fails. Do what I did. Stop on over to your pharmacist. Mine was more than helpful. He jumped right up and helped me get mine raised to the right height. Believe me I was walking like the Hunch Back of Notre Dame before that. I suspected something was outta whack but couldn't get it right. I think your arm is supposed to be down straight to your side when you stand up straight with the cane in your hand. I'm not sure right now since I'm in my room and my cane is not! Hope it helps.

Mark :)

11-20-2006, 09:15 AM
artist....thx for the articles....the pix r a huge help....i'm strictly a visual learner!

barb....me too - one of my big concerns here is how well i'll be able to use a cane at all with my bad arms.....and i always take seriously any advice offered by a talking moose!

jose.....LOL here because of this:

Shoot....Bill? I think that was a little TOO much that time.....Where's the friggin' Super Glue? Why can't you put anything back where you get it from?
think maybe i've been griping too much about his sloppiness?

the funny part is that recently we were at home depot and i grabbed a super-glue to put in the cart and bill said "we don't need that, we HAVE superglue" and i told him that if he could find the stuff when we got home, i would return the new stuff.....last time i checked, he was still looking....and yes, i HID the new stuff so that i can find it when i want it!

back to the cane (this is turning into much more of a story than i anticipated).....a quick look at my new avatar will show u my birthday cane.....my girls know that i think giraffes r fascinating, so they hunted down a giraffe cane for me....the giraffe spots continue down the entire length of the cane......their (correct!) thinking was that if i had to use a cane, i would want one with a bit of panache.....i may be getting old, but i REFUSE to be a little old lady!

so now y'all understand why i simply have to use this particular cane, or at least start my efforts with a walking stick with this one....tho if i find that it really makes a difference, i will probably get a more practical cane, and use this only when the kids r around....or i will use this one as the cane in question when i make the threat "watch yourself, or i'll whack u with my cane".....the best part of needing one is the chance to make that threat!

mark.....you're right...pharmacists r a terrific resource.....they go to school for 6 years to learn everything they know, and then spend half the day telling people where to find the cough drops.....most of the pharmacists i've encountered LOVE being asked a real medical question!

joan, if u gave me bad advice, it would a first!

thx again to all.


miss irie
11-20-2006, 09:29 AM

I have used a cane for a number of years now. Hopefully you'll get a physio appointment so that they can show you how to use the cane properly including going up stairs. If you can't get in quickly, either a drug store or a medical supply store are good alternatives. You can also buy rubber stops for the bottom of your cane as it will ensure your cane doesn't slip on wet surfaces (i.e. after a rainfall). I also have a claw which I attach to the bottom when it snows because it helps stick the cane firmly into the snow and ice.


11-20-2006, 09:32 AM
wow....i never would have thought that u could get "snow tires" for a cane!....how cool!

11-20-2006, 11:07 AM
I've got the snow points -- great for beach walking :D


Diamond Lil
11-20-2006, 01:03 PM
I love my metal snow grips on my cane. Without it I would have to stay home. I think I saw them in a magazine on sale for less than $5. Lil

11-21-2006, 10:25 PM
I have been looking at canes with a stool atached.. its like a tripod cane.. they had 2 seperate designs, I found them in a Rexal drugstore but you can also look at golf shops for them as well I think.

I sometimes use 2 canes (borrow my ma's) when it is realy bad, and when I walk for a bit and my legs just don't want to hold me up any longer I do have a little tripod stool to sit on.. but it is a pain to cary around.. I have thought of getting a walker but it is rough terain here in my little village (an I just dont want to:( ), the other choice for me is a 4 wheel scooter but I am not prepared to do that yeat either.. not quite yeat..

I use my cane properly on the opposite side now.. I too had what my physio called a spider gait because of using the wrong side... I walked just like the main character on the show "house" and I felt grumpy like him too.. lol.

Cane height is equal to the crease in my hip as I bend forward.. wirks for me and I cant use the handle shaped like a upside down " j ", the roundness realy makes my hand and arm alot more sore.. I go with the upside down L shape and a good solid base.. aluminum adjustable powdercoated multicolored pretty.. my party cane.. lol

Good luck with it all and do shop around, treat a cane like a new pair of shoes.. It'll be your support when it is needed.

Take care, an gentle hugs,